Karine Jean-Pierre
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More Than One-Third of Trans Kids Are at Risk of Losing Gender-Affirming Care

trans allies protest

A new study conducted by the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law has revealed the staggering impact the swath of new and proposed laws banning trans youth from receiving gender-confirming medical care will have if passed. Specifically, more than one-third of trans youth in America — 58,200 of an estimated 150,000 kids aged 13 to 17 — are currently at risk of losing access to life-saving care.

As of March 2022, 15 states have either banned access to or are considering laws that would restrict or prevent trans and nonbinary youths from receiving gender-affirming care.

In 2021, the Arkansas legislature put a ban in place on gender-affirming care impacting nearly 1,500 trans youths in the state. The American Civil Liberties Union has launched a legal challenge against that ban. 

In February 2022, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an order that both restricted access to gender-affirming care for trans children and classified it as “child abuse.” The move potentially impacts as many as 13,800 trans youths in Texas and targets the parents of trans children who support them with gender-affirming medical care. In March, a Texas judge ordered a halt to investigating parents, which is expected to stand at least until an additional trial over the law takes place in July. 

Now, 13 other states are considering bills that would limit or ban access to such care, putting an estimated 42,950 trans youths in danger. These new bills also target healthcare providers who offer coverage for gender-affirming care to minors or subject them to discipline from state licensing boards

This is in addition to trans young adults ages 18 to 20 in North Carolina and Oklahoma who are also at risk of losing that same medical care, due to three proposed bills that would apply to young people over the age of 18. Alabama had proposed a similar bill but walked it back last week. 

These moves by the states go against recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatricians, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the American Psychiatric Association, all of whom agree that gender-affirming care is beneficial to trans youth.

The Williams Institute study sites a 2020 study published in Pediatrics that found access hormone blockers was associated with lower odds of suicidal ideation during the lifetime of transgender adults. And additional research conducted by the institute found that the “risk of past-year suicide attempts was lower among transgender people who wanted and received gender-affirming medical care.” The institute added that, more generally, its research found that efforts to support trans youth in living their gender led to better mental health and safety outcomes, whereas suppression or conversion therapy is associated with an increased risk of suicide.

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