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Legislation Is Being Pushed to Restrict Gender-Affirming Healthcare

Members of the Republican party have continued to push bills that will restrict medical providers from offering gender-affirming health care to minors, even with parents' consent. The aggressive legislation comes as the battle over gender and sexuality increases in classrooms, political campaigns, and courtrooms. 


Republicans have introduced over three hundred bills in thirty-three states that limit individuals that are LGBTQ. This number is already double the number of bills filed in 2022. The legislation has targeted control over sports and bathrooms in the past year. This year the focus has shifted to legislation against gender-affirming healthcare. 


Republican Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed legislation in late January that made Utah the first state to ban hormone therapy and gender-affirmation surgery for patients under eighteen. Even if the individual had the parent's consent, the treatments were still banned. However, a small loophole lies in the system. Individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria before the legislation was passed can still receive treatments because they are grandfathered in. 


Bills in Idaho, Missouri, and Wyoming criminalize those who provide such care to youth by charging those individuals with a felony child abuse charge. Other states, such as Tennessee and Texas, charge individuals with abuse under family law. Due to these legislations, individuals who seek to help youth understand their gender dysphoria and offer them a fix are not named criminals.


In Wyoming, one bill declared surgeries and the use of puberty-blocking drugs child abuse. Another bill threatens to revoke the medical licenses of providers and prohibit said procedures from being covered by insurance. 


According to Komodo Health Inc, out of the 121,884 minors that were diagnosed with gender dysphoria from 2017 to 2021, less than fifteen percent of those individuals received the help they were looking for with hormone therapy. This is an astounding number, and the percentage may decline even more as more legislation passes and more bans go through.


While legislation aims to ban intervention procedures, many U.S. medical professionals endorse puberty blockers as a safe option for adolescents suffering from gender dysphoria. These drugs can help youth ease their anxiety and give them more time to consider their identity before undergoing irreversible surgery. 


There is more to gender-affirmative care than treatments and procedures. A gender-affirmative approach provides an individual emotional validation, a sense of safety, and support for themselves and their families.


Restricting access to gender-affirming healthcare will promote discrimination and worsen significant healthcare inequalities. The implementation of these bills could have harmful effects on youth mental health. 


According to a survey done in 2022 by the Trevor Project, ninety-three percent of transgender and nonbinary youth in the U.S. worried about the restriction of access to gender-affirming health care due to state or local laws. 


Research proves that gender-affirming care helps improve the mental health and overall well-being of transgender individuals—especially those suffering from gender dysphoria. A study conducted by the Williams Institute showed that individuals who reached out for and received gender-affirming medical care were at a lower risk of attempting suicide. 


Suppressing and taking away individuals' rights to choose what happens with their bodies poses the risk of severe consequences. The rate of transgender suicides is already so high these bills may cause them to increase even more.

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