The SRCD Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression (SOGIE) Caucus strongly condemns harmful legislation that limits access to gender-affirmative healthcare and criminalizes healthcare professionals who treat transgender and non-binary youth. Legislation has been introduced and/or passed in at least 19 states in the U.S. and in a growing number of countries that will make it impossible for trans youth to access life-saving gender-affirmative treatments, including puberty blockers, hormones, or surgery–even with parental consent. In several states, additional legislation has been introduced and/or passed that would (a) require public employees to out their trans clients/students to their parents, and (b) limit trans youths’ participation in sports.
The current wave of legislation is emblematic of a long-standing effort to deny trans youth the opportunity to thrive in their families, schools, and communities. These legislative efforts run counter to a convincing body of research that documents the positive impacts of gender-affirming medical care, school policies, and community climates for trans youth. Given documented racial disparities in access to care, it is likely that these bills will disproportionately harm trans youth who also identify as Black, Indigenous, and youth of color.
The science is clear: trans youths’ access to and use of affirmative medical and social interventions improves their health and development, and reduces their long term psychological risks including the risk of suicide. Moving to ban access to gender-affirmative healthcare contradicts best-practice guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Psychological Association, The American Medical Association, The World Professional Association for Transgender Health and many more medically respected organizations, and violates the ethical standards of health-serving professionals to “First do no Harm”. These laws would irreversibly force youth through puberty, rendering a more difficult adult physical and social transitioning and risk for suicidal thoughts and self-harm behaviors. It is imperative that policymakers, legislators, and advocates stand up for trans youths’ mental and physical health by preserving their access to gender-affirmative healthcare.
We have a responsibility as developmental scientists to take actionable steps to advocate for and protect trans youth from these harmful policies; policies that contradict science. Those in positions of power must support, enact, and uphold policies and laws that provide access to medical and social interventions that benefit and affirm the health of trans youth — policies that are empirically supported, warranted, and lifesaving.
For Further Reading:
- Chew, D., Anderson, J., Williams, K., May, T. & Pang, K. (2018). Hormonal treatment in young people with gender dysphoria: A systematic review. Pediatrics, 141(4), e20173742. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2017-3742
- Chen D., Strang, J. F., Kolbuck, V. D., Rosenthal, S. M., Wallen, K., Waber, D.P., Steinberg, L., Sisk, C.L., Ross, J., Paus, T., Mueller, S. C., McCarthy, M. M., Micevych, P. E., Martin, C. L., Kreukels, B. P. C., Kenworthy, L., Herting, M. M., Herlitz, A., Haraldsen, I. R. J. H.,…Garofalo, R. (2020). Consensus parameter: Research methodologies to evaluate neurodevelopmental effects of pubertal suppression in transgender youth. Transgender Health, 5(4), 246-257. https://doi.org/10.1089/trgh.2020.0006
- Leibowitz, S., Green, J., Massey, R., Boleware, A. M., Ehrensaft, D., Francis, W., Keo-Meier, C., Olson-Kennedy, A., Pardo, S., Rider G. N., Schelling, E., Segovia, A., Tangpricha, V., Anderson, E., T’Sjoen, G., & on behalf of the WPATH, USPATH, and EPATH Executive Committee and Board of Directors. (2020). Statement in response to calls for banning evidence-based supportive health interventions for transgender and gender diverse youth. International Journal of Transgender Health, 21(1), 111-112. https://doi.org/10.1080/15532739.2020.1703652
- Schagen, S. E. E., Cohen-Kettenis, P. T., Delemarre-van de Waal, H. A., & Hannema, S. E. (2016). Efficacy and safety of gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist treatment to suppress puberty in gender dysphoric adolescents. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 13(7), 1125–1132. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsxm.2016.05.004