A new collaboration between pediatricians in Jacksonville is geared toward providing health and mental services to youth in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community as well as their families.

The initiative is called Jax Youth Equality and involves a partnership between UF Health Jacksonville, Wolfson Children’s Hospital and the Nemours Children’s Health System.

Recent violence involving victims in the transgender community has garnered a lot of negative publicity, but this new program is a step in the right direction, said Jeff Goldhagen, a professor and chief of community pediatrics at UF Health Jacksonville.

“When you talk to people who are transgender, they will tell you that something was different about them at age 4 or 5 years old,” Goldhagen said. “This isn’t something that necessarily starts in adolescence.”

Goldhagen said the ultimate goal of the program is to create a system of care for children and their families within the LGBT community.

They brought the community together with experts from outside the city about a year and a half ago for a meeting to discuss the potential program, and Goldhagen said he was surprised at how many people showed up. There were about 160 people representing dozens of area organizations in attendance.

Read the full story from our partners at The Florida Times-Union here.