Parent Awareness of and Attitudes Toward Gender-Affirming Pediatric Health Care: A Cross-Sectional Survey

Marie E. Heffernan*, Anne Bendelow, Michelle L. Macy, Raina V. Voss, Jennifer Leininger, Carly G. Menker, Mia Casale, Tracie L. Smith, Matthew M. Davis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: We aimed to characterize parent attitudes toward gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth, from a general parent sample in a diverse urban setting. Methods: We surveyed Chicago parents through the Voices of Child Health in Chicago Parent Panel Survey via web and phone in English and Spanish from May–July 2022. We used both probability-based and nonprobability-based sampling, with calibration weights for the nonprobability sample. Parents responded about their awareness of a debate about and support for autonomy in gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth and provided demographic information. We used descriptive analyses and logistic regression to examine predictors of awareness and support. Data were weighted to be representative of Chicago's parent population. Results: Surveys were completed by 1,059 parents. The survey completion rate for the probability sample was 43.1% (a completion rate was not available for the nonprobability sample from online, opt-in surveys). Most parents were unaware of the debate about gender-affirming healthcare (56.0%). More than two-thirds of parents (68.9%) support decisions about gender-affirming healthcare being left to children, their parents, and their doctor. Parents who were aware of the debate were more likely to support gender-affirming healthcare (83.7%) than parents who were not aware (57.2%, p < .0001). Parents who were aware of the debate had higher odds of supporting gender-affirming care for youth (adjusted odds ratio = 3.00, 95% confidence interval: 1.93–4.66) in a multivariable logistic regression model. Discussion: Broad parent support for gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth is an important perspective to consider in policy discussions at state and federal levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)808-813
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • Gender-affirming healthcare
  • Parents
  • Survey methods
  • Transgender youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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