LGBTQ Agenda: Half of trans youth may lose access to affirming care, HRC says

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Tuesday March 28, 2023
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The Human Rights Campaign has issued a new report stating that just over half of trans American youth ages 13-17 have lost or could soon face barriers to gender-affirming care. Image: Courtesy HRC
The Human Rights Campaign has issued a new report stating that just over half of trans American youth ages 13-17 have lost or could soon face barriers to gender-affirming care. Image: Courtesy HRC

Just over half of trans American youth ages 13-17 have lost or could soon face barriers to gender-affirming care, according to a report from the national Human Rights Campaign.

The reason is an "unprecedented legislative assault on the trans community," according to an HRC news release, which has led to seven states banning gender-affirming care for young people. An additional three states have passed legislation that is currently awaiting action by governors.

The states that have banned gender-affirming care are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah. The states where legislation has passed but has not been signed by their respective governors are Iowa, Georgia, and West Virginia.

In Kentucky, Governor Andy Beshear (D) vetoed a Republican-led bill banning gender-affirming care, but the GOP-dominated Legislature could override it.

Six states have had such legislation passed by at least one chamber of their statehouses: Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, and Oklahoma.

The populous states of Florida and Texas have effectively banned treatment through administrative or executive actions. In Florida, the Board of Medicine forbade gender-affirming care, which went into effect this month; in Texas, the Department of Family and Protective Services was directed by Republican Governor Greg Abbott to investigate such care as child abuse.

An HRC map shows the scale of the legislative punches: 22.2% of American trans youth have lost access to gender-affirming care, and 28.2% are in danger of losing access.

HRC estimates some 300,000 American high school students can benefit from gender-affirming care.

Jay Brown, the senior vice president of programs, research and training at HRC, stated that the situation is "dire," and that while these laws will have serious ramifications for LGBTQ people, they are being passed due to the political exigencies of the Republican Party.

"These dangerous and discriminatory policies advocated by power-hungry politicians are void of any credible purpose," Brown stated. "These politicians are spreading propaganda and creating more stigma, discrimination, and violence against transgender people just to rile up extreme members of their base. We must stop them. Now more than ever, we must fight back against extremism and hold anti-LGBTQ+ politicians accountable for bullying children and terrorizing our families."

Vanessa Pimentel, a nonbinary person who serves as San Francisco District 10's youth commissioner, told the Bay Area Reporter that they are "filled with sadness and anger that half of trans youth could be denied health care that is life-saving and necessary."

"This care was vital to me as a youth," said Pimentel, 24. "This is prejudice against trans and nonbinary people, which is heartbreaking. I'm very passionate about this. It's unacceptable that trans rights are being threatened. We must do all we can do to provide for access to safe and appropriate care."

Laura Lala-Chávez, a nonbinary, first-generation Mexican American, is the executive director of the LYRIC Center for LGBTQQ+ Youth in San Francisco's Castro neighborhood.

The B.A.R. asked Lala-Chávez if they were aware of any trans youth who could speak with a reporter for this article.

"Our youth are very skeptical in this moment to be vocal for many obvious reasons," Lala-Chávez stated, adding that they are working on creating a youth panel to discuss these issues.

There's also a March Out for Queer Rights coming up at San Francisco City Hall at 2:20 p.m. on Friday, March 31, to protest against some of this legislation.

"We have to remember that despite right-wing political views and debate, every credible medical organization agrees that gender-affirming care is life-saving and appropriate for trans and nonbinary youth," Lala-Chávez told the B.A.R. "As we continue to hear stark news and new data restricting access across states to medically necessary gender affirming care for youth, our job as adults is to fight back against this legislation."

Lala-Chávez agreed that legislation is being pushed forward due to hostility toward the LGBTQ community.

"This legislation is not rooted in medical science but rooted in hate against the LGBTQ+ community," Lala-Chávez stated. "We have to consider the mental health toll these types of debates place on our young people particularly when they know that medical science supports and affirms their identity. Trans and nonbinary people have always been here. We will continue to be here and LYRIC will remain welcoming to all youth who no longer feel supported or affirmed in their home states."

Former President Donald Trump, who is running to be the GOP's presidential nominee a third time, vowed earlier this year that if reelected he would bar the federal government from promoting "the concept of sex and gender transition at any age."

A backlash against gender-affirming care for youth is visible in some European countries, too, with Sweden and the United Kingdom's National Health Service introducing restrictions on puberty blockers, which are medications that stop some puberty-related changes, such as the development of breasts, periods, and deepening voices.

However, data compiled by the Trans Youth Project at Princeton University and reported in the New York Times shows that only 2.5% of a cohort that underwent social transition before the age of 12 returned to identifying with their sex assigned at birth after five years. Sixty percent started taking puberty-blocking medications or hormones by the end of the study period.

LGBTQ Agenda is an online column that appears weekly. Got a tip on queer news? Contact John Ferrannini at [email protected]

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