Category Archives:

National Geographic Features a Transgender Girl on the Cover of the January Issue

Until very recently, transwomen and transmen were virtually invisible in society. Concerned and even afraid of their neighbors’ potential reactions, many transgender individuals preferred to remain “hidden” and keep their gender identities a secret. However, the past several years have seen a major upswing in the visibility of transgender persons in the media. Openly transgender celebrities like Chaz Bono, Caitlyn Jenner, and Laverne Cox have graced the covers of national magazines and increased awareness of transgender issues in the United States. While there is still work to do, we’ve definitely come a long way.

And this month, a landmark moment for transgender youth: the first transgender child to be featured on the cover of a national magazine. Avery Jackson, a 9-year-old girl from Kansas City, was chosen by National Geographic to be the face of their special January issue on gender issues. Dressed head to toe in pink with a shock of matching pink hair, Avery appears strong and brave beneath a headline declaring “Gender Revolution”. According to the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Susan Goldberg, Avery perfectly sums up this concept, capturing the complexity of today’s conversation around gender. “The best part of being a girl”, Avery says, “is now I don’t have to pretend to be a boy”.

Although Avery’s biological sex at birth was male, she has lived as a girl since the age of five. According to her mother, Debi Jackson, Avery identified as a girl from an even younger age. She went from being a happy and outgoing two-year-old to becoming angry and depressed around the age of three or four. She hated going to preschool. According to experts at Johns Hopkins, this is actually the age that gender identity begins to solidify in children. When allowed to dress as a girl, however, Avery’s depression would lift.

Goldberg says that National Geographic chose to focus their January issue on gender due to the current emphasis on these issues in the United States. As a society, the beliefs and viewpoints we have about gender are shifting radically. For transgender youth, this is an immensely positive thing. Like Avery, more and more transgender individuals are discovering their gender identity at a younger age. With the support of their families and friends, transgender kids who are allowed to express their gender identity can thrive and avoid the feelings of isolation and depression often faced by their peers. And according to experts, transgender children like Avery provide further evidence of a biological basis for the transgender experience.

One common misconception about transgender children is that they are receiving hormones or other medications to treat their condition. According to doctors who work with transgender patients, treatment in young children is primarily supportive, and may include therapy to help in coping with gender dysphoria and the challenges that come with being transgender. However, no medications are indicated until the child enters adolescence. At this stage, transgender youth can begin taking puberty-suppressing medications to prevent the development of secondary-sex characteristics that are incongruent with their experienced gender. Therapy typically continues, and the patient may begin hormonal treatment once they are more intellectually and emotionally mature.

Our very own Caroline Gibbs, who heads the holistic therapy division at ICTC, has worked with Avery and her family over the years. When she served as the director of the Transgender Institute in Missouri, Caroline had an interesting conversation with Avery that was profiled in the Washington Post. Even at the age of six, Avery was confident and resolute in her identity as a girl. “Can you tell me something about yourself? Are you a boy or a girl?”, Caroline asked. “I’m a girl”, Avery responded. “I just am”.

For her part, Avery says that she never intended to be a symbol of gender diversity. “I just wanted to be myself”, she says. “I’m just a girl”. Still, the editors of National Geographic commended Avery for her bravery, pride, and confidence in her choices. In a YouTube video filmed when she was seven, Avery proclaimed “You can be who you want to be. I am proud of who I am because I’m transgender—and I’m a girl”. It’s likely that Avery will prove to be an inspiration to many children (and adults) around the world, both transgender and cisgender.

Introducing a New Approach to Transgender Care

Accessing quality care can often present a challenge for members of the transgender community. Although awareness of gender diversity is on the rise in the United States, many healthcare providers remain uninformed about the unique issues faced by transgender individuals, and are unequipped to assist patients who seek treatment for this condition. Furthermore, patients who identify as transgender often face discrimination within the healthcare establishment; the results of a recent survey indicated that 19% of transmen and transwomen had actually been denied care based on their transgender status. And for those patients who do manage to access care, treatment is often disjointed. Patients commonly see one provider for hormone therapy, one provider for surgery, and another for gender therapy. Clearly, a better approach is needed.

The International Center for Transgender Care (ICTC) was created in response to this critical need. Founded by a group of plastic surgeons and a mental health therapist, all experts in their respective fields, ICTC seeks to offer a higher level of care for members of the transgender community. Here, our approach is truly holistic. In addition to providing a comprehensive range of gender transition surgeries, ICTC offers gender therapy, a med spa, and a research division. All of our services are delivered in a welcoming and affirming environment at our state-of-the art surgical center in Dallas, Texas.

At ICTC, we believe that gender therapy is an integral component of the treatment process for transgender patients. Our therapy division is headed by Caroline Gibbs, a licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC) who is internationally recognized as an expert in transgender mental health issues. Caroline practices holistic therapy, a multi-faceted treatment that aims to consider the patient as a whole person. Therapy at the Trans Center emphasizes empathy, acceptance, and a deep understanding of the challenges faced by transmen and transwomen. Depending upon the unique needs of each patient, specific modalities offered may include individual, group, child, or family therapy, voice coaching, and assistance identifying treatment options and resources.

The surgeons at ICTC are internationally renowned for their work in transgender surgical care. With over twenty years of experience performing transgender procedures, our vision is to become the destination of choice for transmen and transwomen throughout the country. We offer a full range of surgical services, including facial feminization and facial masculinization, breast augmentation and mastectomy, body feminization and body masculinization, and gender confirmation surgery. Our surgeons follow the WPATH guidelines for transgender care and will work with you to design a gender transition treatment plan customized to your unique goals and needs.

The transition process is an important time for transgender patients. Many transmen and transwomen have spent their entire lives unhappy with their physical appearance, and the transition period may be the first time that they feel truly comfortable in their own skin. The Med Spa at the Trans Center offers a range of innovative aesthetic procedures to enhance the results of gender transition surgery. Patients may opt to complement their surgical procedures with cosmetic treatments such as laser hair removal, fat reduction procedures, or Botox. Our experienced med spa staff is committed to assisting each patient in looking and feeling their very best during this important life stage.

In addition to providing world-class transgender treatment and care, the experts at ICTC are dedicated to understanding the biological causes and consequences of gender diversity. ICTC is the first institution of its kind to combine research with clinical care. Through our work in the clinical research division, we hope to gain enhanced insight into the transgender experience and positively impact the lives of our patients. Our goal is to become the de facto source for transgender research and publication through a rigorous, methodologically-sound scientific process. Our research interests include gender dysphoria, the causes and implications of transgenderism, and the effectiveness of various treatments and therapies for this condition.

At the International Center for Transgender Care, our mission is to provide the very best holistic therapy and surgery options for the transgender community. Our experienced and compassionate staff look forward to assisting you throughout your transition surgery—please don’t hesitate to reach out to us to discuss our innovative approach to holistic transgender care.

We look forward to assisting you in achieving the very best possible results for all of your gender transition procedures. Contact us today to schedule a consultation at (972) 543-2477.