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Johanna Olson, MD is an Adolescent Medicine physician specializing in the care of gender non-conforming children and transgender youth. Board certified in Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Dr. Olson has been an Assistant Professor at Children's Hospital Los Angeles for the past nine years. Dr. Olson has been providing medical intervention for transgender youth and young adults including puberty suppression and cross sex hormones for the past six years, and is considered a national expert in this area. Dr. Olson is the Medical Director of The Center for Transyouth Health and Development at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, the largest transgender youth clinic in the United States. Dr. Olson has appeared frequently on national television, and spoken all over the country to educate providers, parents, and other communities about the needs of transgender youth.

Clinical Interests

Gender non-conforming children, transgender adolescents and young adults


Medical School: 

Chicago Medical School


Children's Hospital of Orange County


Children's Hospital of Orange County


Children's Hospital Los Angeles



Adolescent Medicine 2003, 2013

Medical Memberships: 

Society for Pediatric Research, World Professional Association for Transgender Health, Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine

Medical Awards: 

The Champion Award - The Division of Adolescent Medicine; CHAMPION FUND 5000 Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles

Recognition Award for Outstanding, Compassionate and Innovative Service - SoCal Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine Regional Chapter, Los Angeles

Anne Marie Staas Ally Award - Stonewall Democratic Club; 1049 Havenhurst Drive #325, West Hollywood

Extraordinary Service Award - Equality California, 202 W 1st St., Suite 3-0130 Los Angeles

Clinical Research Academic Career Development Award - Saban Research Center TSRI Program: Community Health Outcomes and Intervention, Los Angeles

Health Care Advocacy Champion - Democratic Advocates for Disability Issues, Los Angeles


Olson-Kennedy J, Mental Health Disparities Among Transgender Youth: Rethinking the Role of Professionals, JAMA Pediatr. 2016 May 1;170(5):423-4. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.0155 PubMed Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26998945

Olson-Kennedy J, Cohen-Kettenis P. T., Kreukels B.P.C, Meyer-Bahlburg H.F.L, Garofalo R, Meyer W, Rosenthal S.M., Research Priorities for Gender Nonconforming/Transgender Youth: Gender Identity Development and Biopsychosocial Outcomes, Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2016 Apr;23(2):172-9. doi: 10.1097/MED.0000000000000236. PubMed Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Research+Priorities+for+Gender+Nonconforming%2FTransgender+Youth%3A++Gender+Identity+Development+and+Biopsychosocial+Outcomes

Olson J, Forbes C, Belzer M. Management of the transgender adolescent. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2011 Feb;165(2):171-6. doi: 10.1001/archpediatrics.2010.275. Review. PubMed PMID: 21300658. PubMed Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Management+of+the+transgender+adolescent++Olson 

Olson J, Garofalo R. 2014. The peripubertal gender-dysphoric child: puberty suppression and treatment paradigms. Pediatr Ann. 43(6):e132-7. doi: 10.3928/00904481-20140522-08.

Olson J, Schrager S, Belzer M, Simons L*, Clark L. Baseline physiologic and psychosocial characteristics of transgender youth seeking care for gender dysphoria. Journal of Adolescent Health, July 2015 doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2015.04.027 PubMed Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=.+Baseline+physiologic+and+psychosocial+characteristics+of+transgender+youth+seeking+care+for+gender+dysphoria

Olson J, Schrager S M., Clark L F., Dunlap S L., Belzer M. Subcutaneous testosterone: an effective delivery mechanism for masculinizing young transgender men, LGBT Health. September 2014, 1(3): 165-167. doi:10.1089/lgbt.2014.0018. Pub MedLink: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Subcutaneous+testosterone%3A+an+effective+delivery+mechanism+for+masculinizing+young+transgender+men

Schrager SM, Olson J, Beharry M, Belzer M, Goldsich K, Desai M, Clark LF. Young men and the morning after: a missed opportunity for emergency contraception provision? 2014. J Fam Plann Reprod Health Care. doi: 10.1136/jfprhc-2013-100617. [Epub ahead of print]

Belzer ME, Naar-King S, Olson J, Sarr M, Thornton S, Kahana SY, Gaur AH, Clark LF; Adolescent Medicine Trials Network for HIV/AIDS Interventions. The use of cell phone support for non-adherent HIV-infected youth and young adults: an initial randomized and controlled intervention trial. 2014. AIDS Behav. 18(4):686-96. doi: 10.1007/s10461-013-0661-3.

Simons L, Schrager SM, Clark LF, Belzer M, Olson J. Parental support and mental health among transgender adolescents. 2013. J Adolesc Health. 53(6):791-3. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.07.019. Epub 2013 Sep 4.

Lujan-Zilbermann J, Warshaw MG, Williams PL, Spector SA, Decker MD, Abzug MJ, Heckman B, Manzella A, Kabat B, Jean-Philippe P, Nachman S, Siberry GK; International Maternal Pediatric Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trials Group P1065 Protocol Team. Immunogenicity and safety of 1 vs 2 doses of quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine in youth infected with human immunodeficiency virus. 2012. J Pediatr. 161(4):676-81.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2012.04.005. Epub 2012 May 22.

Research Interests: 

Research Topics

  • Gender-nonconforming youth, transgender adolescents and young adults

  • Gender dysphoria

Research Overview

Transgender children and adolescents are a poorly understood and a distinctly understudied population in the United States. The limited available data suggest that transgender youth who are gender dysphoric (persistently distressed about gender incongruence) are at increased risk for negative mental and medical health outcomes including anxiety, depression, HIV acquisition, suicide, and substance use compared to their peers. Therefore, medical intervention is aimed at alleviating gender dysphoria and ameliorating potential negative outcomes.

Johanna Olson, MD, Medical Director of the Center for Transyouth Health and Development at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, works closely with gender nonconforming children and adolescents to find ways to help them thrive.

Gender-nonconforming youth are emerging at increasingly younger ages, and those experiencing gender dysphoria are seeking medical care at the onset of puberty, or sometimes even before. Youth with gender dysphoria are at high risk for depression, anxiety, isolation, self-harm, and suicidality at the onset of a puberty that feels wrong.

Existing strategies for treating transgender youth depend on the developmental stage at which these youth present for care. For those transgender youth that present for care in the early stages of pubertal development, treatment is aimed at suppressing their endogenous puberty in order to avoid the development of undesired secondary sexual characteristics that intensify the distress associated with gender incongruence. For those youth in later stages of puberty, the goal of treatment is to use cross-sex hormones in order to induce the development of desired secondary sexual characteristics that bring the body into closer alignment with the youth's internal sense of gender.

New Research Initiatives

In 2011, the Institute of Medicine emphasized a clear need for the development of evidence-based and rigorous research aimed at understanding the health implications of hormone use in transgender individuals.

Olson has initiated a clinical research study that will evaluate the impact on mental health, psychological well-being, physiologic parameters and bone health as well as document safety of hormones administered for puberty suppression; and another to evaluate impacts on a group of youth in later stages of pubertal development to assess the impact of cross-sex hormones for gender transition.

The study networks four academic sites around the country (Children’s Hospital Los Angeles/University of Southern California, Boston Children’s Hospital, Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago/Northwestern University, and University of California San Francisco) with dedicated transgender youth clinics to conduct a multi-site observational study examining the physiological and psychosocial outcomes of existing medical treatment protocols for transgender youth with gender dysphoria.

This multi-center study will be the first in the U.S. to evaluate longitudinal outcomes of medical treatment for transgender youth and will provide essential evidence-based data on the physiological and psychosocial effects and safety of treatments currently used for transgender youth.

JAMA Pediatrics- Probing The Complexities Of Transgender Mental Health 

The Hollywood Reporter - How Common are Siblings Like the Wachowskis?

Times Leader — Looking at Suppressing Puberty For Transgender Kids

Seattle Times- Trans Kids Thrive With Supportive Families

New York Magazine – How the Fight Over Transgender Kids Got a Leading Sex Researcher Fired 

NY Daily News - Seat of Unrest 

Rolling Out.com — Daycare workers fired for not acknowledging 6-year-old as transgender boy

San Diego Union-Tribune – Sam’s Journey: This is who I am

Al Jazeera America – Betrayed by their bodies: For trans teens, puberty can be a trauma 

Buzz Feed — Jazz Jennings is Finding Her 

The Hollywood Reporter- Why There's a Medical Crisis for Transgender Youth

E!- Do-Gooder Gallery

Vanity Fair- Inside Vanity Fair: Trans America, Our New Special Issue on Gender Identity and Expression

LA Times- In California, a Transgender 9-year-old Tells Her Story 

Newsweek- Transgender Youth Don’t Have Anything Wrong With Their Hormones 

ABC/Nightline- 'I Am Jazz': Transgender Teen on Grappling with High School, Puberty 

BBC-Transgender 13-year-old Zoey having therapy 

CNN- The pros and cons of transgender children in the public eye

Huffington Post- Coy Mathis: One Child's Fight To Change Gender

Huffington Post- What Is Transgender? Beyond the Bathroom Debate

KPCC- Parents open up about raising transgender kids

Sports Illustrated- An American Hero: 40 years after gold, Jenner comfortable in her own skin

LA Times- Being Transgender Isn’t a Mental Illness

NPR- Trans and Adopted: Exploring Teen Identity

Medicine Net- Transgender Youth Don't Have Hormone Abnormalities

Buzzfeed News- American Girl

PBS NewsHour — NY will soon make it easier for trans youths to delay puberty

NBC News- U.S. parents accept children's transgender identity by age three

PBS Newshour - Demand surges for clinicians serving transgender youth — and for earlier treatment

CNN — Transgender boy is barred from Boy Scouts

USA Today - Discovering Emma: A kindergartner's transgender journey

ResearCHLA Blog:

Mental Health Disparities in Transgender Youth Populations

Transgender Youth Have Typical Hormone Levels

Transgender Adults Start Out As Transgender Youth: The Science Behind the B. Jenner Story


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