Republicans across the country are currently legislating to make various treatments for transgender children illegal, even though those treatments are supported by medical professionals, to include the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Endocrine Society, the Journal of the American Medical Association, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, the Pediatric Endocrine Society, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the NASW (Simon, 2021; NASW, 2022). Just in the past several years over half of the U.S. state legislatures have considered laws that limit the rights and freedoms of transgender children – even the right to receive medically necessary affirming care.
While Republicans spout hateful rhetoric and claim to be helping these kids, here are the facts:
1) They know these laws hurt transgender kids. Their actions prove it.
Every year the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducts a survey to determine the mental health status of our kids. For instance, that same survey has found, in recent years, that 1.8% of students identify as transgender, and more than ⅓ of trandgender adolescents had attemped suicide in the previous 12 months (Martin, 2021).
Recently, Florida legislators passed the Don’t Say Gay law, which prevents the mention of LGBTQ issues (and even existence) in younger grades (and due to vagueness, potentially in older grades). Now Florida’s Department of Health has issued guidance stating that youth should not receive hormone therapy, puberty-blocking drugs, or gender reassignment surgery (Mazziotta, 2022). Additionally, Florida’s DoH advised against any form of gender-affirming care, to include using preferred names and pronouns – in direct opposition to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American Medical Association guidance (Mazziotta, 2022).
With the spate of hateful, anti-LGBTQ actions being taken in Florida, Republicans – for all their rhetoric – know that the mental health of our transgender chidren will suffer.
What is their response?
To pull out of participation in the CDC survey.
They know harm will result, and they don’t care. They just don’t want it documented (Santich, 2022).
2) Early intervention for transgender kids can be life-saving, and treatment is reversible.
When children and adolescents feel gender dysphoria – the painful awareness that their physical gender does not represent their gender identity – treatment to forestall the development of secondary sex characteristics provides not only relief but also time. This treatment, using “puberty blockers,” is effective – and the effects are reversible.
As children grow into adolescence and approach adulthood, if their gender identity and sex assigned at birth remain different, use of gender-affirming hormones can be started. Thus this treatment can be reversed if necessary, and is literally life-saving in the meantime.
“Young people who receive such gender-affirming care report improvements in their overall well-being, and their level of well-being is generally in line with that of their cisgender peers – and sometimes it’s higher (Martin et al., 2021).”
According to a peer-reviewed study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health,
“Youth presenting for medical treatment of gender dysphoria at earlier developmental stages (i.e., early vs. late puberty) endorse lower rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidality and higher body esteem and life satisfaction. This highlights the need to improve access to early medical treatment to attenuate mental health risk (Chen et al., 2021).”
In their push for power, these lawmakers don’t care who they hurt. They are hurting the people who most need society’s care and support – transgender kids. Push back. Let your representatives know that you support transgender youth. #LGBTQallies #SayGay #TransgenderRights
For the full studies, read the journal articles linked below (Chen et al., 2021, Journal of Adolescent Health, and Martin et al., 2021, New England Journal of Medicine). Also, go to the GLAAD and NASW sites to see the professional medical organizations which support treatment for transgender youth.
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Chen, D., Abrams, M., Clark, L., Ehrensaft, D., Tishelman, A. C., Chan, Y., Garofalo, R., Olson-Kennedy, J., Rosenthal, S. M., & Hidalgo, M. A. (2021, June 1). Psychosocial characteristics of transgender youth seeking gender-affirming medical treatment: Baseline findings from the trans youth care study. Journal of Adolescent Health, 68(6): 1104-1111.
Martin, S., Sandberg, E. S., & Shumer, D. E. (2021, August 12). Criminalization of gender-affirming care – Interfering with essential treatment for transgender children and adolescents. New England Journal of Medicine, 385(7): 579-581.
Mazziotta, J. (2022, April 21). Florida advises against gender-affirming care for trans kids in Texas-like guidance. People. https://people.com/health/florida-advises-against-gender-affirming-care-for-trans-kids-in-texas-like-guidance/
NASW condemns efforts to redefine child abuse to include gender-affirming care. (2022, February 25). NASW. https://www.socialworkers.org/News/News-Releases/ID/2406/NASW-Condemns-Efforts-to-Redefine-Child-Abuse-to-Include-Gender-Affirming-Care
Santich, K. (2022, April 20). Florida pulls out of CDC survey on students’ drinking, drug use, and suicidal thoughts. Orlando Sentinal. https://www.orlandosentinel.com/politics/os-ne-florida-pulls-out-of-cdc-youth-mental-health-survey-20220420-kpu7a7w6mrdkdbglliic4aazbu-story.html
Simon, B. (2021, April 19). Medical association statements supporting trans youth healthcare and against discriminatory bills. GLAAD. https://www.glaad.org/blog/medical-association-statements-supporting-trans-youth-healthcare-and-against-discriminatory
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