Thalia loves the freedom of lifting off the ground during her flying lessons. At 17, she was working toward her pilot’s license. “Going fast is really fun,” she says. Care at Children’s National Hospital has helped her fly.

Two years ago, Thalia realized she was transgender. “It was scary figuring out such a big, important part of myself.” Depression and social anxiety made high school stressful. Friends recommended our Gender Development Program. Thalia was wary at first, but started group therapy and met with child and adolescent psychiatrist, Dr. Laura Willing. “She understands so much,” says Thalia. “I felt seen and understood. I knew I could trust her and everyone in the program.”

Thalia also participated in a research study that explored the relationship between brain structure and a child’s experience as transgender. She answered questions and performed game-like tasks. She underwent neuroimaging and took home a 3-D model of her brain. She also got something else: a confidence boost. “The doctors took me seriously and wanted to know more about me. Being a part of their research made me feel like they were investing in me, not like something was wrong.”

Thalia used to keep to herself a lot. She says things changed after she got the support she needed. “Now, I do more, such as flying,” she says. “I feel comfortable being myself.”

A young patient at Children's National Hospital.

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A young patient at Children's National Hospital.