Johanna Olson-Kennedy, MD

Medical Director, The Center for Transyouth Health and Development
Attending Physician
Investigator, Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine and Behavioral Health
Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, Keck School of Medicine of USC

Johanna Olson-Kennedy, 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-Kennedy has been providing medical intervention for transgender youth and young adults including puberty suppression and cross sex hormones for the past 16 years, and is considered a national expert in this area. She 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-Kennedy is an Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine at USC.

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

Professional Memberships

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


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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Publications on PubMed


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-Kennedy, 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.

Visit the Olson-Kennedy Laboratory.


Los Angeles Times - Opinion: I’m 17, trans and loving life. Joy should be the norm for trans people

CBS News - Trans health care is a "matter of life or death," doctors say

Forbes - ‘Dangerous, Discredited’ LGBTQ+ Conversion Therapy Costs U.S. More Than $9 Billion Each Year, Study Finds

The Washington Post - FAQ: What you need to know about transgender children

NBC News - Transgender fertility study sheds light on testosterone's impact 

EXTRA - Mario Lopez Responds to Criticism Over Recent Comments About the LGBTQ Community

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 — 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 Magazine 2017

USA Today (Print Edition) – Because they are transgender some Americans are being denied 'life-saving' health care

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