Trans Kids Don’t Have the ‘Regrets’ Republicans Cynically Claim


A new study confirms what experts in transgender medicine have known for years: the overwhelming majority – 98% – of adolescents who start gender-affirming treatment continue this treatment into adulthood.

The research, published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, adds to a growing body of evidence that gender-affirming care, a broad term that includes physical and mental health services, is care health issues for transgender youth. This evidence is compelling enough that a long list of medical societies, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Endocrine Society, have affirmed their support for access to this type of care.

It’s a body of evidence that Republicans cynically ignore when introducing state-level bans on transgender care — bans that tend to target transgender youth. They claim to protect children, but families and scientific research say they harm them.

This week, proceedings began in a lawsuit brought by Arkansas families challenging the “SAFE” (Save Adolescents From Experimentation) law. Passed last year but pending while the case is in court, the law prohibits doctors from performing or referring to gender transition care, including puberty blocking hormones or birth control surgeries. sex change.

Judges blocked the application of similar laws in Alabama and Arizona. Other bills aimed at health care access for trans youth are proliferating as the midterm elections approach. Some bills go so far as to criminalize the act of prescribing or helping an adolescent access gender-affirming care. Others would define gender-affirming care as child abuse.

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The sponsors of these bills claim they are denying health care to trans children to protect them. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge told Time that the law will prevent children from making “permanent life-altering decisions that they might wish to make as a minor child but might regret at adulthood”.

Science clearly proves this argument wrong. At a fundamental level, Rutledge and the many others who promote this line of thinking misinterpret how puberty blockers work. The effect of these drugs can be reversed by stopping the treatment. And in the Lancet study, Dutch researchers asked whether adolescents who started gender-affirming care — in this case, puberty blockers followed by hormones (estrogen or testosterone) — continued that care. until adulthood. Almost all did.

The results “are consistent with what those of us who actually care for transgender people think we see in our clinical practices,” says Joshua Safer, executive director of the Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery. Of the very few patients in her practice who expressed regret about gender-affirming therapy, the doubts were related to a lack of support for their transition, not because they questioned their gender identity. . Along the same lines, a recent survey found that family pressure and social stigma were among the top reasons why a small fraction of transgender people choose to return to live in the sex they were assigned at birth.

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In other words, gender-affirming care does not harm children. Evil comes from a society that cannot bear their mere existence. Republicans who use false claims about the dangers of health care for trans youth to energize their base seem more than happy to nurture this kind of society.

Blocking access to gender-affirming care comes with incredibly high stakes for some children and their families. Studies show that gender affirmation therapy can significantly reduce the risk of suicidal thoughts and improve the overall well-being of transgender youth. For families with children who use these drugs, these benefits far outweigh the potential health risks associated with taking them.

It’s “literally a do-or-die situation,” says Karen Young. In college, her transgender child went through depression, self-harm and hospitalizations. Puberty blockers, which her child started at age 12, and the more recent introduction of estrogen, helped pull her out of this terrifying stage.

But Young also lives in Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis recently ended gender-affirming coverage for Medicaid recipients. Her decision came two days after her now 14-year-old child was approved by public insurance to receive an implant that regularly delivers puberty-blocking drugs over the course of a year. Young had the medical device, but no one to implant it. She spent weeks searching for a hospital in another available state, then more time negotiating with the Florida hospital, which feared the legal ramifications of sending her across state lines.

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This procedure and everything related to it will be out-of-pocket expenses for Young’s family. So will all of her child’s routine visits to an endocrinologist, her estrogen treatment, and much more.

Young feels privileged to be able to navigate an increasingly difficult system and provide, even when it’s difficult, the care her child needs. She worries for families who don’t have that luxury — and of course fears for people in states where such care might be banned altogether.

Several families have come forward to sue the state of Florida over the ban. As judges there, the one in Arkansas this week and others across the country weigh the evidence, they should pay attention to stories from families like Young’s. And they should recognize that these are not just anecdotes – these lived experiences are reflected in science.

More from Bloomberg Opinion:

• Medical ban for trans children is morally repugnant, but probably legal: Noah Feldman

• Are Republicans and Big Business Heading for a Breakup? : David A. Hopkins

• Banning trans girls from playing sports violates Title IX: Noah Feldman

–With the help of Elaine He.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Editorial Board or of Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Lisa Jarvis is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering biotech, healthcare, and pharmaceuticals. Previously, she was the editor of Chemical & Engineering News.

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