Additional Skills Needed for Developing a Gender Specialization for Work With Children & Adolescents

This information is authored by Gaylesta member and Gender Specialist, Lisette Lahana, LCSW; if shared with others, please provide appropriate attribution. Her website is

  1. The clinician’s consultation, which may include some group consultation, over the course of 2- 3 years with Senior Gender Specialist(s), will be with a specialist who has experience working with children and adolescents.
  2. Have attended a significant number of relevant conferences over the course of a number of years specific to child and adolescent transgender and gender nonconforming youth such as Gender Spectrum or Gender Odyssey Family Conference.
  3. Attendance of courses, workshops or seminars relevant to clinical work with gender dysphoric, gender variant, gender exploring or transgender youth.
  4. Reading of professional articles and literature relevant to the field such as Gender Born, Gender Made (Diane Ehrensaft, 2011) and The Transgender Child (Brill and Pepper, 2008).
  5. Have a fundamental understanding of child and adolescent physical development including but not limited to puberty.
  6. Have an understanding of child and adolescent social and emotional development including how various stages are impacted by suppression and rejection of a child or teen’s gender identity and expression.
  7. Possess training, through continuing education or individual consultation, on how to discuss and/or prepare children and families for puberty blocker treatment if that has been determined to be an appropriate part of the treatment plan.
  8. Understand how to support families, including siblings and extended family, through a child’s or teen’s gender exploration and/or social or medical gender transition. This includes an advanced skill set to provide family therapy.
  9. Possess the clinical skills to engage with children and teens of various ages, and have experience with clients of various gender identities.
  10. Be able to advocate and intervene outside of the office in the school or other settings, as needed, to facilitate clients’ comfort and safety. This may include an understanding of local, country and national law related to gender protections at any given time.
  11. Attendance of LGBT youth events, listening to programs, viewing websites, watching documentaries, reading books and watching videos produced by transgender youth and families to learn about our clients’ lived experiences.
  12. Be an active reader and member of online groups where the provider can engage in dialogue, learn about controversies and new research with other mental health (gender specialist) and medical professionals engaged in the field of gender-related healthcare specific to children and teens.

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Recommendations for Maintaining a Gender Specialization

©2016 Lisette Lahana. The author welcomes comments on or suggested changes for future updates of this document.