On the Student Front

Coming Together: Creating a Space for Trainees to Process Gender Healthcare Bans

By: Afiya Sajwani, MS, and Ben Parchem, PhD


In recent months, a record number of bills have been introduced and passed limiting healthcare options for transgender and non-binary children and adolescents. Such legal decisions have increased barriers to accessing life-saving healthcare for transgender and non-binary children and adolescents, while also affecting the quality of care psychologists can provide to our patients. During these challenging times, the SPP Gender Health Special Interest Group (SIG) has provided ongoing opportunities for pediatric psychologists and trainees working in this area to come together and share research findings, discuss cases, and offer support. Most recently, the SIG held support spaces for psychologists working in pediatric gender health settings in the aftermath of regulations placed on gender-care provision.

As the student co-representatives of the SPP Gender Health SIG, we are especially attuned to how the current legislative climate affects trainees. These legal decisions limit the number of training opportunities available, while bringing up fears about future career and professional opportunities. Moreover, trainees may not feel comfortable sharing their concerns in current training contexts due to changing guidance, lack of support, or fears of retaliation. Given our positionality as trainees and student leaders within the SIG, we felt particularly moved to respond to the needs of our fellow trainees. Therefore, we decided to host monthly peer-to-peer process groups for psychology graduate students, externs, interns, and post-doctoral fellows interested in, or currently training in, pediatric gender healthcare. Trainees who are not members of SPP are also welcome. The goal of these groups is to be flexible, non-hierarchical, and responsive to trainees’ needs. So far, we have hosted three groups with the goal of continuing to host this space as long as it is useful for trainees. If you are interested in joining our next group, or know of a trainee who would like to, please contact Afiya ( and Ben ( for more details.

The consequences of the current legislative climate will likely be felt for many years to come, especially on a cultural level. Therefore, our current and future work to promote positive health outcomes among all children and adolescents must continue to include transgender and non-binary children and adolescents, especially those with intersecting marginalized identities. This cannot be done if the professionals (including trainees) working in this space do not have their own support and sense of community with those doing similar work. There is also a critical need to communicate with each other about current events that are directly impacting the ability to provide high-quality evidence-based care. Solidarity has the power of promoting resilience for those we serve, while also taking care of ourselves to show up consistently and meaningfully in the work we do.