Young transgender people in most states have lost or are at risk of losing medical care

Young transgender people in most states have lost or are at risk of losing medical care

Republican lawmakers are increasingly successful in their fight to prevent transgender youth from getting medically recommended gender-affirming care.

More than 146,000 transgender youth have lost or are at risk of losing access to gender-affirming care in the United States due to bans and active or proposed state policies, a national research center has found.

A total of 32 states have restricted access to gender-affirming care or are considering laws that would, according to a recent report from the UCLA Law School’s Williams Institute, which monitors laws and public policy. regarding issues of sexual orientation and gender. identify. The majority of those states are led by Republican lawmakers, many of whom do not support gender-affirming care for children.

“An unprecedented number of bills have been introduced this year to restrict access to gender-affirming care for transgender youth,” said Elana Redfield, the institute’s director of federal policy. “States are exploring all avenues to prevent access to care.”

Many proposals impose severe penalties on health care providers and even family members who provide or attempt to seek gender-affirming care for minors. Some prohibit insurers from providing coverage or restrict the use of public funds for such care.

What is gender-affirming care?

Gender-affirming care includes the use of hormones to delay puberty and promote physical development that matches the child’s gender identity. While supporters of laws banning such care for young people say the bans are a way to protect children, such care has been endorsed by major health groups such as the American Medical Association, the Endocrine Society and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Research shows that gender-affirming care improves the mental health and general well-being of transgender people, including youth,” said Kerith J. Conron, director of research at the institute who, like Redfield, was among the authors of the study.

Where are transgender youth affected?

About 85,700 transgender youth live in 15 states that have enacted bans or taken executive action to limit access to care, the authors said — including West Virginia, where Gov. Jim Justice signed such an invoice March 29, the same day Kentucky GOP lawmakers voted to override Democratic Governor Andy Beshear’s veto of a similar bill there.

An additional 60,600 young people in 15 other states — including Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina and Oklahoma — risk losing gender-affirming care if pending legislation is passed. This includes Montana and North Dakota, where bills have been sent to governors but have not yet been signed into law.

Proposed bans were rejected in Virginia and Wyoming earlier this year.

In addition to Kentucky, West Virginia and Idaho, legislative bans have recently been passed in states such as Georgia, Iowa, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee and Utah. Legislative bans previously existed in Alabama, Arizona and Arkansas, while Florida and Texas enacted bans by executive order last year.

Anti-LGBTQ laws tackle misinformation, critics say

The Human Rights Campaign, a Washington, DC-based LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, recently published a map with related data showing that just over half of transgender youth ages 13-17 nationwide have lost or are at risk of losing access to gender-affirming care.

Critics say such laws play on fears and misinformation while jeopardizing the emotional and physical well-being of a small, vulnerable population and placing doctors in the ethically difficult position of providing care at risk of losing their career.

The Williams Institute previously found that access to gender-affirming care is associated with lower rates of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.

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