Psychology Professor Laura Edwards-Leeper Tapped as Expert on Youth Gender Dysphoria and Related Issues
Laura Edwards-Leeper, associate professor of graduate psychology at Pacific University, told Vice magazine this month she found it “incredibly alarming” that the United Kingdom has turned to the courts to block the use of medication for young people undergoing gender dysphoria.
Edwards-Leeper was extensively quoted in the article, which focused on the UK’s ban on the use of reversible puberty blockers that are commonly used in other countries, including the United States.
“Puberty blocking medication for gender diverse and transgender youth who have been properly assessed can decrease psychological distress and gender dysphoria, and can sometimes be life-saving,” she told Vice.
It was just the most recent example of the way journalists and others have turned to Edwards-Leeper to help interpret gender issues affecting young people, such as those considering changing the gender identities they were assigned at birth.
In January, The Economist sought her opinion on gender issues for children as several U.S. states also took initiatives to prevent widely used treatments. She told the magazine most children on blockers or sex hormones have not been properly assessed by health professionals, because not enough professionals are properly trained and qualified to conduct them.
She was quoted last fall by The New York Times, and has also been quoted or cited by the BBC, The Washington Post and Atlantic magazine, which devoted a July/August 2018 cover story headlined “When Children Say They’re Trans.”
In addition to teaching graduate students at Pacific, Edwards-Leeper has her own clinical psychology practice in Beaverton, Ore., where she works almost entirely with gender diverse children, adolescents and adults.
When she worked at Boston Children's Hospital/Harvard Medical School, she was the founding psychologist for the Gender Management Service, the first interdisciplinary, pediatric, hospital-based clinic in the United States to offer assessment and medical intervention to transgender youth.
She also was a member of the American Psychological Association Task Force that developed practice guidelines for working with transgender individuals. She chaired the Child and Adolescent Committee for the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH).