Angela Weiss | Getty Images

I’m appalled. Within the span of a couple weeks, Republican dominated state legislatures from around the United States have introduced bills criminalizing trans affirming healthcare to minors. If the bills become law, states like South Dakota, Kentucky, Arizona, and Florida would ban trans kids from receiving necessary medical care that treats gender dysphoria and a body that is incongruent with a child’s gender identity. All these bills vary from severe to dangerous, putting young trans kids in harms way. Make no mistake: if these bills become law, transgender kids will suffer, and that injustice can’t stand.

To make sense of this nonsensical legislation, we first need to know more about the bills. Many of these proposed laws contain similar language though South Dakota’s House Bill 1057 acts as a baseline for these potential laws. Here is what the bill entails:

  • Defines sex as “the biological state of being female or male, based on sex organs, chromosomes, and endogenous hormone profiles.”
  • Classifies trans affirming healthcare as a felony. The bill describes this felony as a medical professional who attempts “to change or affirm [a] minor’s perception of [their] sex, if that perception is inconsistent with the minor’s sex.”
  • The law would forbid minor’s from receiving these procedures: “castration, vasectomy, hysterectomy, oophorectomy, metoidioplasty, orchiectomy, penectomy, phalloplasty, and vaginoplasty.” The bill had a different section on mastectomy’s as well.
  • The bill bans hormone replacement therapy to minors. Prescribing, dispensing, and administrating puberty blockers, testosterone, and/or estrogen is forbidden.
  • Further forbades the “Removing [of] any otherwise healthy or nondiseased body part or tissue.”
  • Many Intersex conditions are exempt

Some of the bills are worded differently, going into more or less detail than South Dakota’s monstrous proposed legislation, but the intent is clear: Republicans believe treating trans kids with life saving medical care should be against the law.

These potential laws are based on insidious and disingenuous lies spread about both the trans community and the nature of being transgender. In fact, many proponents of anti trans medical legislation incorrectly believe that doctors thrust puberty blockers and other medicative and operative procedures upon poor unsuspecting children. In South Dakota, Representative Fred Deutsch, the HB 1057’s sponsor and the son of a holocaust survivor, compared trans affirming care to experiments conducted by the Nazis.

“To me, that’s a crime against humanity when these procedures are done by these so-called doctors, you know, that dance on the edge of medicine. I just don’t think it should be done,” Deutsch said in an interview (reported in Time Magazine) to The Family Research Council, a christian conservative organization designated as an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“I’m the son of a Holocaust survivor,” Deutsch said. “I’ve had family members killed in Auschwitz, and I’ve seen the pictures of the bizarre medical experiments. I don’t want that to happen to our kids. And that’s what’s going on right now.”

Deutsch’s idiotic remarks are somewhat enlightening in their ignorance. While the South Dakota legislator somewhat walked back his statement on CNN -saying: “[The] comments I made based on my history of being the son of a Holocaust survivor are regrettable”-, Deutsch’s beliefs on transgender medical care reflect ignorant conservative dogma. Afterall, no normal or educated person would write a bill referring to gender confirmation surgery as “castration”, and only the most brain dead mother f***er on earth would compare life saving trans healthcare to the holocaust.

Conservatives like Deutsch are fear mongering and spreading disinformation because that’s the only argument they have. They’ll share  debunked studies about kids who desist from their gender identities, propaganda by right wing fringe groups like the American College Of Pediatricians, and stories misrepresenting people who detransition (people who detransition often do so out of the hardships associated with being openly transgender). It’s very insidious and falsely equates transitioning to a lifestyle choice like smoking, drinking, or getting tattoos. Despite conservative denial, banning puberty blockers for trans kids is akin to outlawing insulin for diabetics under the age of 18. Rather than discrimination, Trans kids deserve the help of knowledgeable and understanding professionals. Many need puberty blockers to live an optimal life.

Transgender advocates are equipped with knowledge to back these truths up. Data, scientific studies, and best medical practice acknowledge the reality that being transgender is a real lived condition, and for children, transgender affirming medical care like puberty blockers can be life saving. According to a study recently published by The Official Journal Of The American Academy Of Pediatrics, puberty blockers can lessen suicidal ideation.

Per the study’s conclusion: “This is the first study in which associations between access to pubertal suppression and suicidality are examined. There is a significant inverse association between treatment with pubertal suppression during adolescence and lifetime suicidal ideation among transgender adults who ever wanted this treatment. These results align with past literature, suggesting that pubertal suppression for transgender adolescents who want this treatment is associated with favorable mental health outcomes.”

The study confirms years worth of medical practice. For one, the American Medical Association believes access to trans affirming healthcare is crucial for transgender patents. The AMA states: “Improving access to gender-affirming care is an important means of improving health outcomes for the transgender population. Receipt of gender-affirming care has been linked to dramatically reduced rates of suicide attempts, decreased rates of depression and anxiety, decreased substance use, improved HIV medication adherence and reduced rates of harmful self-prescribed hormone use.”

The American Academy Of Pediatrics additionally listed guideline regarding transgender care. The American Academy Of Pediatrics recommends:

  • “Providing youth with access to comprehensive gender-affirming and developmentally appropriate health care.”
  • “Providing family-based therapy and support be available to meet the needs of parents, caregivers and siblings of youth who identify as transgender.:
  • “Making sure that electronic health records, billing systems, patient-centered notification systems and clinical research are designed to respect the asserted gender identity of each patient while maintaining confidentiality.”
  • Supporting insurance plans that offer coverage specific to the needs of youth who identify as transgender, including coverage for medical, psychological and, when appropriate, surgical interventions.
  • “Advocacy by pediatricians within their communities, for policies and laws that seek to promote acceptance of all children without fear of harassment, exclusion or bullying because of gender expression.”

But what about the doctors that conservative politicians wrongly fear are endangering kids by forcing them to be transgender? The reality is that there are numerous and established criteria for kids to be prescribed puberty blockers. Firstly, it’s worth stating that puberty blockers are reversible. According to the Children’s Hospital Of Chicago, “Pubertal suppression therapy is a non-invasive, reversible process achieved by using compounds that mimic the actions of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) – a puberty stimulating hormone released in the brain.” Essentially, puberty blockers can stall puberty until kids can make an informed decision when they’re older.

The Endocrine Society further explains standard practice for treating trans youth with puberty blockers and HRT. Per the Endocrine Society: “We suggest that adolescents who meet diagnostic criteria for GD/gender incongruence, fulfill criteria for treatment, and are requesting treatment should initially undergo treatment to suppress pubertal development… In adolescents who request [HRT] (given this is a partly irreversible treatment), we recommend initiating treatment using a gradually increasing dose schedule after a multidisciplinary team of medical and MHPs has confirmed the persistence of GD/gender incongruence and sufficient mental capacity to give informed consent, which most adolescents have by age 16 years.

“We recognize that there may be compelling reasons to initiate sex hormone treatment prior to the age of 16 years in some adolescents with GD/gender incongruence, even though there are minimal published studies of gender-affirming hormone treatments administered before age 13.5 to 14 years. As with the care of adolescents [greater than] 16 years of age, we recommend that an expert multidisciplinary team of medical and MHPs manage this treatment.”

As you can see, doctors aren’t prescribing puberty blockers and HRT willy nilly. They aren’t pushing kids to change genders. In reality, being transgender is a complicated quagmire that needs to be handled with care. Transgender kids can experience immense distress due to gender dysphoria, and health professionals need to help these children navigate this very confusing time of their lives. Barring minors from access to the medical care they need will have a lasting harmful affect on transgender youth. In this regard, conservatives will harm the very kids they claim to protect. Not on my watch.

Liked it? Take a second to support Riley Constantine on Patreon!

Leave a Reply