Gender development services at Lurie Children’s are outpatient services.  Aimed at supporting the physical, mental, and social health of patients and their families as youth progress through gender identity development.  As specialists in pediatric and adolescent gender development, we recognize that when it comes to providing effective care, “no one size fits all.”  Therefore, our goal is to keep our families most informed of their treatment options, supporting them with medical, and behavioral health care along the way.

Patients who come to our clinic to receive high-quality, family-centered care generally fall within one or more of the following groups:

  • Gender-non conforming children: Children and adolescents who exhibit behavior that is not typical of their assigned birth sex.
  • Gender-questioning youth: Children and adolescents who are questioning their gender identities (e.g., “I was born a girl, but I wonder if I’m really a boy?”).
  • Transgender and gender-fluid youth: Children and adolescents who identify as a gender identity different from their assigned birth sex (e.g., “I was born a girl, but I am really a boy.”).

Services & Support

Lurie Children’s provides medical consultation, medical intervention (e.g., cross sex  and pubertal delaying hormones) and health research with gender-non conforming youth across the developmental spectrum of pediatrics and adolescence. In 2013, we expanded our program to include mental health services, non-clinical support services and capacity building with other youth-serving organizations. Our services include:

  • Comprehensive medical and psychological consultation for families with gender-non conforming, gender-questioning and transgender youth
  • Routine consultation, administration and monitoring of medical treatments:
    • To reversibly pause pubertal development among gender-questioning youth entering puberty
    • To initiate physical cross-sex transition among transgender adolescents

In addition to these services, we offer access to these support services:

  • Connection to legal consultation services (e.g., legal name changing, etc.)
  • Training and consultation with school systems
  • Ongoing play, socializing and support groups such as PeerWISE® and ParentWISE®
  • Consultation for community providers and clinicians to enhance gender-affirming care
  • A growing research program that aims to advance the understanding of gender identity development from childhood to young adulthood

As school districts strive to include all students and celebrate diversity in school, a need for comprehensive gender inclusion on a systemic level has emerged. Schools and educators are working to support a growing population of transgender and gender diverse youth living as their affirmed gender identity. To address this, Lurie Children’s and other collaborators created the Model Policy and Administrative Procedure to guide schools as they navigate how to support gender inclusion, something that is important for all students. Download the Model Policy and Administrative Procedure guide.

To find out more information about our program, call Jennifer Leininger at 773.303.6056 or e-mail

We are also actively advocating for transgender and gender non-conforming youth in matters of public policy. View our policy statement.

Our Philosophy

For even the most loving, affirming and resilient families, navigating childhood gender identity development can be confusing, distressing and sometimes unclear. It can become more challenging as our patients and their families encounter difficulties posed by others, including extended family members, school officials and other community members. We help navigate these challenges by providing our families with education, exceptional and affirming clinical care, support, and ongoing consultation to ensure that children and families flourish safely in an environment that is both nurturing and affirming.


Our entire staff is dedicated to evaluating and treating pediatric patients from infancy through adolescence. Our specialists include:
  • Pediatricians
  • Endocrinologists
  • Urologists
  • Clinical psychologists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Ethics consultants

The heads of the programs, Director Robert Garofalo, MD, MPH, and Director Earl Cheng, MD, started the program in 2013. Dr. Garofalo is board-certified in pediatrics and adolescent medicine. He also directs Lurie Children’s Adolescent/Young Adult HIV Program, the Division of Adolescent Medicine and the Center for Gender, Sexuality and HIV Prevention at Lurie Children’s Research Center.  He is a national expert on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) health issues as well as adolescent sexuality and HIV infection.

Dr. Cheng is a board-certified pediatric urologist. Dr. Cheng completed his urology residency at Northwestern University and his pediatric urology fellowship at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.  He is a national expert in complex reconstructive urology and has a special interest in the medical and surgical management of individuals with disorders of sex development.