Prague, Czech Republic – An increasing number of Czech teenagers identify as transgender, a team of researchers has found.
According to Petr Weiss, who oversaw the study, more and more Czech adolescents identify as a gender different than the one they were born with – a trend linked, according to him, to greater awareness on the topic in the Czech population, including among parents, teachers or pediatricians who are better equipped to help children seek advice from experts.
Several institutions, including the Institute of Sexology of Prague’s General University Hospital and the University Hospital in Brno, reported an increased interest from Czech teenagers for gender reassignment procedures.
A similar trend has been observed in a number of other countries, including in Europe and the US, where a previous study had found that approximately 3 percent of ninth and 11th graders identified as transgender or gender nonconforming.
The DSM-5, the standard classification used by mental health professionals, describes this condition as “gender dysphoria”, linked to experiencing distress with one’s biological sex, or even to the complete inability to live and identify with one’s birth gender.
The impact of social media, where young people can find information and easily connect with people facing the same issues, has also been highlighted by experts to explain the rise of transgender identity among teenagers.
For under-18s to start their transition process in the Czech Republic, a legal representative (parent or guardian) and several doctors – including a sexologist, a psychologist and pediatric endocrinologists – need to give their approval.
Hormone therapy cannot begin before 16, although teens can start taking puberty blockers (which is reversible) before that age. Gender reassignment surgeries, for their part, cannot be performed before 18 years old.
An important share of transgender patients – 40 percent for the University Hospital Brno – stop their transition process and do not fully complete it.
While the Czech Republic shows higher level of acceptance towards sexual minorities and transgender people than most countries in Central and Eastern Europe, resistance remains high in some segments of the population.
Last June, President Milos Zeman caused an outcry when he described transgender people as “repulsive”, several weeks ahead of the Prague Pride Week which this year was held around the theme “Coming out”.