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Gender Affirming Care

IWK Health is a proud leader in gender-affirming care. We ensure youth in Nova Scotia access support and treatment based on evidence. Gender-affirming services at IWK Health include assessment for gender incongruence and assisting non-binary and transgender adolescents in understanding and meeting their embodiment and health goals.

Gender-affirming care is tailored to the individual and their unique developmental needs. Our clinicians are guided by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health Standards of Care, version 8.  Evidence-based care can improve comfort, mental health, social and academic achievement, and overall well-being.

Questions about gender identity or expression?

Our clinicians can help by:

  • supporting gender identity exploration and evolution
  • helping to identify embodiment (transition) goals
  • sharing knowledge about the benefits and risks of effective treatments
  • completing readiness assessments for medical interventions in alignment with personal goals

We support youth and families through decisions about options that can help youth feel more comfortable in their bodies, decrease feelings of gender dysphoria, and improve well-being. Transition is a journey that begins socially and may evolve to include puberty blockers, hormone replacement therapy, and/or surgeries.

Families in transition have unique needs and for those who need it, specialized support is available to caregivers and families as they proceed on the journey with their child.  Family support is the most important element in the well-being of transgender and non-binary youth and adults.  We will meet families where they are at.

IWK teams collaborate with community partners to ensure the most comprehensive and supportive care is available to trans, non-binary, and gender-questioning youth and their families. We work with individual care networks to connect youth to community-based resources and support, which may include mental health services.

Accessing gender-affirming care at IWK Health

Youths can self-refer by calling the Mental Health and Addictions provincial intake line at 1-855-922-1122 or 902-464-4110. An access navigator will complete a screening assessment that takes roughly 30 minutes. Referrals can also be made by family doctors, nurse practitioners, pediatricians, parents, and caregivers. 

You will then be booked for a Choice appointment with a community mental health clinician who will help you identify your gender exploration and embodiment goals and refer you to gender services including readiness assessments. If you have mental health or addiction concerns, you will be connected to the best clinician for treatment. These steps can happen simultaneously.