ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - More transgender children in St. Louis are coming forward and getting medical help that is proving to be life changing and life saving. Doctors in St. Louis are blocking puberty so these kids don’t have to grow up in the wrong body. A Ladue High School senior went through this medical procedure before puberty. Will Copeland is 17 and was born female. When he was two years old he asked his father why God made him wrong. He has never wavered from that belief that he was born the wrong gender. Will grew up by the name of Grace. At age 12 doctors gave him hormone blockers preventing him from going through female puberty. He never developed breasts or other female characteristics. Now he takes testosterone injections. It stimulated male puberty, giving him a low voice, facial hair and male characteristics. He was able to get extra height as well. Will is thankful for he's never been bullied and has been respected by his friends who know his background.
Dr. Norman Spack recently visited St. Louis to speak with medical professionals and parents about treating transgender children. He is one of the first doctors in the country to tackle the medical problem of treating transgender children. One in five of his patients at Boston Children's hospital had tried to self mutilate or commit suicide because of the affects of puberty on their bodies. Dr. Spack says in order to pass as somebody of a female for example, you must give the hormone blockers before age 16 to stop the pronounced facial bone structure, Adam’s apple and voice change. The goal is not to do anything permanent with these children until they are absolutely certain they were born the wrong gender and decide to make a permanent physical change.
Bottom-line, the hormone blockers are completely reversible. Dr. Abby Hollander at Children's hospital in St. Louis has seen her transgender pediatric patient load more than double in the past two years. The St. Louis support group Transparent started two years ago with four families. They now have 57 families with no advertising. Families of transgender children say there are many more kids out there needing medical treatment than most people realize.
Mandy's Previous Story on a Transgender Teen:
Full interview with Will Copeland:
Full interview with Dr. Norman Spack of Boston Children's Hospital:
Transgender Web Links:
- TransParent, St. Louis Support Group
- St. Louis Children’s Hospital Adolescent Medicine
- Dr. Norman Spack, Boston Children's Hospital
- National Center for Transgender EqualityTransgender Law CenterTransgender Law and Policy InstituteTransgender Legal Defense and Education FundTrans Youth Family AlliesSaint Louis Gender FoundationEquality Illinois
Growing American Youth
LGBT Center of St. Louis
Metro Trans* Umbrella Group
American Civil Liberties Union