A Look Into Our UF Health Youth Gender Program
The University of Florida Health Youth Gender Program provides social, medical and mental health support to gender-expansive youth and young adults and their families. Our mission is to provide a safe space for youth while educating families and community members on gender-expansive and transition-related issues. We help empower our patients to make informed decisions with accurate information and take an active role in their care. The UF Health Youth Gender Program collaborates with Equality Florida and shares anecdotes of negative school and community youth experiences with Equality Florida’s TRANSaction project to target injustices, bullying and harassment in school districts across the state. We also connect patients and their families to legal services as needed, from name change assistance to filing complaints against a school district.
The program began in 2016 and was established by UF Health pediatric endocrinologist Janet Silverstein, M.D., who was determined to bridge the gap in care for gender-expansive people. We see more than 200 patients in addition to their families each year. Many of our patients are from rural areas across Florida, where gender-expansive resources are limited.
As a patient advocate, it is my job to share my experiences as a trans person with patients and provide resources, research studies and articles to demonstrate how we use evidence-based practices in our program. I advocate for gender-expansive youths’ needs in the practice and with their families. Often, we see youth who are invalidated and alienated by their families and their communities. Our program is often the only place in which patients can be themselves. As the patient advocate, I am usually the first trans person they’ve met, as many are used to being the “token trans kid” in their communities.
During Pride Month in June, it is important to recognize our history. In 1969, Marsha P. Johnson, a Black trans woman, and Sylvia Rivera, a Latinx trans woman, started a riot to combat LGBTQ oppression, and they are the main reason we have a Pride Month to celebrate today.
Learn more about the UF Health Youth Gender Program.
- Lucas Cole DeMonte, M.Ed., Ed.S., UF Health Youth Gender Program Patient Advocate