Transgender kids in the St. Louis area now have somewhere to go for medical care and counseling. A transgender medical center opened Tuesday, and it's the first of its kind in the region.
The medical facility is expected to help hundreds of children and their families throughout the region with comprehensive health care.
Kim Hutton's 14-year-old son is a transgender teenager. She said it's hurtful taking him for medical care when the staff doesn't know how to properly refer to him.
"To see the pain on my child's face when they called his old name, it's heart breaking," said Hutton.
She wants medical staff to know "how critically important it is to get the name right when the name has changed, or that your child doesn't go in for medical care and is misgendered. It causes a lot of damage."
Which is why she's grateful that Washington University and the St. Louis Children's Hospital Transgender Center of Excellence is now open.
The director said they foster an accepting environment.
"Already, our patients experience a lot of discrimination, harassment," said Dr. Chris Lewis, a Pediatric Endocrinologist. "Transgender health is a relatively new field even though even though transgender people have been around since antiquity. Some patients have a strong fixed gender identity as young as 3-to-5 [years-old]."
Dr. Lewis said we're just now catching up with taking care of transgender people from a medical standpoint.
"People frequently have depression, anxiety and other aspects of their care that need to be looked at by a mental health professional," said Dr. Lewis. "From a hormonal standpoint, we do offer pubertal suppression agents."
Hutton plans to take her son to the center.
"I feel incredibly hopeful for his future, for his life, for every child like him."
The Transgender Center of Excellence is located on North Outer 40 Road in Town and County in west St. Louis County. They see clients up to the age of 24.
For more information, visit them online.