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The Growing Wave of Bans on Gender-Affirming Care

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Recently, Conservatives and members of far-right groups have placed the LGBT community in the spotlight. Queer existence, in particular drag entertainers and transgender individuals, has come under fire, with anti-queer campaigns calling for a stop to open expressions of gender and sexuality. States across the country have begun passing legislation on this very topic, with many looking to place queer individuals back in the closet and preventing transgender individuals from receiving the healthcare they want and need.


Graphic From: “Mapping Attacks on LGBTQ Rights in U.S. State Legislatures.” American Civil Liberties Union, 27 July 2023, www.aclu.org/legislative-attacks-on-lgbtq-rights?impact=health&state=#categories. This figure illustrates a map of the US denoting states that have passed legislation targeting gender-affirming care.


Operative Definitions


  1. Gender-affirming care: healthcare and resources that allow an individual to change their bodies and/or minds to become comfortable with their gender identity

  2. Transgender: refers to individuals who identify as a gender different from the one they were assigned at birth


Important Facts and Statistics


  1. 24 bills have been passed in state legislatures to ban/limit access to gender-affirming care this year alone.

  2. Data from a 2021 survey conducted by the Trevor Project indicates that 42% of trans and nonbinary youth contemplated suicide; 94% of LGBTQ youth felt impacted by politics; 48% of youth wanted care but were unable to receive it.


Three-Point Plan


(1) Educate healthcare professionals to create safe spaces. 

With doctors properly being able to explain and understand transitioning, worried parents concerned about their child being molded and their bodies being damaged would be put at ease knowing the exact science and steps. Additionally, patients can feel more comfortable during visits rather than fear of discrimination and misunderstanding from a provider. On Sept. 29, 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom approved the TGI (transgender, gender non-conforming, intersex) Inclusive Care Act. The primary goal of this act is to remove stigma and unfair treatment in the medical field towards TGI individuals. California State Senator Scott Wiener, said, “‘SB 923 will ensure that California providers treat patients with the culturally competent and respectful care that they deserve.” SB 923 requires that all providers complete a cultural competency curriculum and offer gender-affirming services, creating a judgment-free environment. This is just one example of a way to implement this plan.


(2) Promote the safety of transitioning to the public.

Legislation is difficult to pass without public support. After all, elected officials need to please constituents. A poll conducted by the Washington Post found that “68% of adults oppose access to puberty-blocking medication for transgender children ages 10-14 and 58% oppose access to hormonal treatments for transgender kids ages 15 to 17.” Interestingly, the same poll found that “a majority of respondents said they support laws banning discrimination against transgender individuals in a range of different forums.” The Washington Post poll indicates to me that sentiments against transitioning are not because of anti-LGBT views but rather a lack of education. The majority of individuals opposing puberty blockers as well as bills that prevent transitional surgeries seem to believe that such actions are harmful, forced and detrimental to children. By disseminating information to allow parents to see the positives in transitioning, exactly how it is done and answering questions, we can remove the stigma. Organizations such as the LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center and the Global Alliance for LGBT Education promote positive teachings on the queer community. Social media is also a necessary outlet. The more constructive information posted online, the better. Importantly, this requires the help of Conservative outlets. The goal of this information is not to peddle an agenda, but simply educate: to show why transitioning is not just a “woke” ideal but sometimes a necessary change to save a life. 


(3) Establish protections at the federal level.

This is perhaps the most crucial step. Enshrining federal protections for transgender individuals is critical to ensure safety. On June 23, 2022, the U.S. Department of Education published an article detailing potential changes to Title IX due to the law’s 50th anniversary. The purpose of Title IX legislation is to prohibit sex-based discrimination in any educational field. Some of the additions to Title IX would include the ability to “protect LGBTQI+ students from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics”. The legislation is open to public comment and will be officially decided on in October of this year. This demonstrates that federal agencies are willing to make changes, we just need the public on board. 


Why This Initiative is Important


Let's avoid sugarcoating things: lives are at stake. This wave of policies aims to stunt transness in America by making gender-affirming care for minors illegal. Some bills emphasize surgeries, other hormones and many criminalize both. Data proves that transgender youth need access to these resources. The policies in question demonstrate that positive changes can be made not just at the state level, but at the federal level, which would override state laws impacting queer children. By allowing schools and doctors' offices to become safe spaces, transgender youth can find havens in areas where they may not feel accepted or, worse, where they are targeted. The DoE proposal importantly demonstrates that there is an interest in protecting queer individuals in the federal government. If we truly want to save children, we cannot ignore transgender minors.


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author.


Sources


Gans, Jared. “Majority of Americans Oppose Gender-Affirming Care for Minors, Trans Women Participating in Sports: Poll.” The Hill, 6 May 2023, thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/3991685-majority-of-americans-oppose-gender-affirming-care-for-minors-trans-women-participating-in-sports-poll/

“Mapping Attacks on LGBTQ Rights in U.S. State Legislatures.” American Civil Liberties Union, 27 July 2023, www.aclu.org/legislative-attacks-on-lgbtq-rights?impact=health&state=#categories

“National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health 2021.” The Trevor Project, www.thetrevorproject.org/survey-2021/?section=Introduction. Accessed 31 July 2023. 

“Senator Wiener’s Transgender Inclusive Care Act, Requiring Physicians to Undergo TGI Cultural Competency Training, Passes Senate Health Committee.” Senator Scott Wiener, sd11.senate.ca.gov/news/20220406-senator-wiener%E2%80%99s-transgender-inclusive-care-act-requiring-physicians-undergo-tgi. Accessed 20 July 2023.

“The U.S. Department of Education Releases Proposed Changes to Title IX Regulations, Invites Public Comment.” U.S. Department of Education, 23 June 2022, www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-releases-proposed-changes-title-ix-regulations-invites-public-comment

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