Conference Coverage

Respect is key when treating dermatologic conditions in transgender youth



– The way Stanley Vance Jr., MD, sees it, the No. 1 priority in the care of transgender youth is respecting their gender identity.

Dr. Stanley Vance Jr. of the University of California San Francisco, adolescent medicine

Dr. Stanley Vance Jr.

“This can really help with rapport and also help them continue to engage with your care,” he said at the annual meeting of the Society for Pediatric Dermatology.

One of the first steps is to establish the patient’s chosen name and pronouns. “Ask, use, and be consistent,” said Dr. Vance, an adolescent medicine specialist at the University of California, San Francisco. “Taking it to another level, you can implement system-level tools to ensure that all of your staff consistently use the chosen name and pronouns. Something we’ve found helpful is including questions about chosen name and pronouns on patient intake forms, and working with the IT department to have a place in our electronic medical record to put the chosen name and preferred pronouns.”

In a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, researchers found that the use of chosen names and pronouns for transgender use was associated with reduced depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, and suicidal behavior among transgender youth.

Dr. Vance, who also holds a staff position at the UCSF Child and Adolescent Clinic, went on to discuss dermatologic considerations for gender diverse youth. In transgender females, estrogens can reduce the quantity and density of body and facial hair, “but it doesn’t necessarily get rid of the hair, so we may refer to dermatology for hair removal or hair reduction. There can also be a decrease in sebum production, which can lead to dry skin for those who are at risk.”

Transgender females often seek laser hair removal or electrolysis to aid in “blendability,” or how they perceive as being female or feminine. “We know that this can help in psychosocial outcomes for these young people,” Dr. Vance said. “Another reason why hair reduction and removal may be important is preoperatively for vaginoplasty.”

In transgender males, testosterone increases male pattern hair growth and can increase male pattern hair loss. “Minoxidil does not interact with gender-affirming hormone treatment. If finasteride needs to be considered, it may interfere with the development of secondary sex characteristics.” Testosterone also increases sebum production and can increase acne, particularly in the first 6 months to 1 year after initiation, and with increased titration. “Some transmasculine youth may need oral isotretinoin, as stopping testosterone can be psychologically damaging,” Dr. Vance said.

“Unfortunately, the iPLEDGE program requirements can be perceived as gender nonaffirming, because patients must register by the sex assigned to them at birth, they must take pregnancy tests, and there can be provider assumptions about sexuality which does not equate with gender identity.”

He recommended having “open and honest” conversations with patients about the requirements and limitations of dispensing oral isotretinoin. “Assure the patient that you will be respectful and affirming of their gender identity while they’re in your office,” Dr. Vance advised. “If the patient has a mental health provider, you can strategize with them to reduce gender dysphoria around this process. Finally, advocating to change the system can not only be helpful for the patient in front of you, but for other patients who are in the same situation.”

He concluded his presentation by describing transgender youth as “some of the most resilient young people I’ve had the pleasure of working with.

“I think that we can all work to make sure they feel supported in who they are,” he said.

Dr. Vance reported having no relevant financial disclosures.

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