Family Medicine Doctor's Top 10 Inclusive Puberty Education Resources

gender affirming healthcare pediatric gender affirming care puberty transgender transgender health education Sep 07, 2022
Image of the cover of the book "What are Your Words?" by Katherine Locke and a young child spinning.

As a provider, particularly a family medicine trained provider, I find one of my biggest jobs is to be a go to for resources for my patients and their families. I don’t have to have all of the answers, but I can help point them in a direction that will help. I have often gotten asked by parents, guardians, or families (PGFs) of my trans or gender diverse young patients for a good resource for puberty education. I also get asked this by my friends who are parents!


I think the best resource is the PGF. Young people are much more interested in what we do than what we say. It is so important for us to model behaviors. My godkiddo, who is four, comes over one day a week before school. We always start off our time together asking, “What are your words today?”. She likes she/her words. I use they/them. Her parent’s words change often. The question comes from a book I got her when I went to San Francisco. The other day when she was over one of my partners tapped their chest a few times to help clear their throat. My godkiddo waited a few beats and repeated the action on her own body. Kids learn life by watching us live life so modeling gender expansive and inclusive approaches to our bodies is the best resource for their education about their own body. 


Other great resources I love for young people to learn about their bodies and how they change through puberty are:


As I mentioned previously, I am a big fan of library reading lists. The Seattle Public Library librarians keep an active list, and I like this one from the New York Public Libraries. 


The most important part is to remind families that kids need small, repeated exposures. One “big talk” won’t really help and will just make everything feel weird. Conversations around puberty, bodies, gender sexuality, and growing up should be woven into everyday life several times a week. This normalizes these topics for young people minimizing shame and discomfort allowing them a safe place to ask questions. PGFs may have their own shame and trauma around these topics and may need help in healing that to be able to better support their youth. Recommending appropriate self-care for them is important for the youth’s overall experience as well. 


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