What Is Gender-Affirming Medical Care For Transgender Youngsters? Right here’s What You Want To Know.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced earlier this summer that he was planning measures to curtail medical care for transgender minors in Texas, in line with other conservative states recently targeting medical practice by leading politicians is widely accepted health groups resp.
In addition to Abbott, many other Texas Republican officials have called for a ban on gender-based care, including state Senator Charles Perry and Abbott’s lead challenger Don Huffines. Efforts to ban such medical care – or define it as child abuse – went through the Texas Senate earlier this year, but ultimately failed to become law. Medical experts say Republican lawmakers’ justifications for the bills falsely claimed that doctors and parents would allow irreversible medical treatment for their children.
Leading Texas health organizations – including the Texas Medical Association, the Texas Counseling Association, and the Texas Pediatric Society – say gender-based care is the best way to care for transgender children. You’re Not Alone: The American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, and others have agreed, and have been for years.
LGBTQ advocates say the sheer specter of banning transgender children from access to health care is taking a mental health toll on them. And now, medical providers fear that the upcoming executive order, as well as any future laws, could affect their ability to treat transgender Texas children.
“If you can’t even talk about it, and these kids aren’t getting the mental health care they need and the counseling services they need, it’s having a huge negative impact on these kids,” said Seth Kaplan, president of the Texas Pediatric Society .
What is gender affirming care?
Areana Quiñones, executive director of the nonprofit Doctors For Change in Texas, defined gender care as non-judgmental, individual care designed to understand and appreciate a person’s gender. Providers often work with counselors and family members to make sure they have everything they need to navigate the healthcare system.
As part of the gender-based care model, more time is spent facilitating social transition for children rather than focusing on medical treatment. A social transition consists of the steps a child takes to confirm their identity. An example could be allowing a child assigned to a man at birth to wear clothes, grow their hair, or use another name that better suits their identity.
This transition will be made with the support of their families and the community.
“The main message is that trans children are children,” said Kaplan. “And they deserve the same health care as all children, evidence-based health care that encourages their growth and development and helps them become healthy, fully functional adults.”
Sometimes more medical assistance is needed for the child. Puberty or hormone blockers are used to give a transgender child time before deciding which permanent transitional treatment they would like.
What are puberty blockers?
Puberty blockers are a type of medical treatment that delays puberty. They are completely reversible.
It’s not uncommon for puberty blockers to be a treatment for children who are not transgender as well. Because early puberty can cause health problems into adulthood, they have been an approved medical treatment for children for decades.
“Hormone blockers are used for a variety of medical purposes, and not just for transgender teenagers,” Quiñones said. “So I think it’s a slippery descent when you say you’re going to forbid doctors to use this as a possible treatment for anything.”
Do transgender children have more advanced procedures than puberty blockers?
Some transgender children have more advanced medical procedures, such as testosterone therapy. These cases are rare, especially if they are allowed to take puberty blockers, which give them more time to decide which medical procedures they want in the future as adults.
However, the language in the health care legislation for transgender children does not reflect this reality. A bill tabled during the special session of the legislature by State Representative Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, would prohibit “gender transition” and list procedures that do not fall under gender-affirmative treatment.
“The standards are to support prepubescent teens where they are,” said Celia Neavel, director of the Center for Adolescent Health at the People’s Community Clinic in Austin. “There’s nothing about hormones or surgery, it’s just about living your life and helping you be who you are.”
What bills against transgender people have Texas legislators pushed forward in recent years?
In the last regular legislative and special sessions, important laws against transgender Texans were introduced. In 2017, Abbott convened a special session to, among other things, pass a controversial bathroom law that would have restricted which toilets transgender Texans could use. The legislation finally failed in this special session after it had also failed in the previous ordinary session.
Experts warn that legislation like this one demonizes transgender people, which can lead them to face higher rates of violence and mental health problems.
“These children are already suffering from much higher levels of psychological problems related to anxiety and higher thoughts of suicide because of the stress they are under,” said Kaplan, president of the Texas Pediatric Society. “And so these laws have the potential to have only dramatic effects on these families.”
In 2019, black transgender women like Muhlaysia Booker and Chynal Lindsey were killed in Dallas in a year when almost every transgender person murdered was black. Booker was found dead in a Dallas parking lot a month after being attacked. When advocacy groups showed lawmakers pictures of Booker’s face, they said it was difficult for every single lawmaker to look at the photo.
“This was the first time lawmakers had come into deeper realities,” said Emmett Schelling, executive director of the Transgender Education Network of Texas, in a conversation about building transpolitical power in 2019. “In the midst of tragedy, we were able to get lawmakers Really understand the cost of rhetoric and what our community paid. “
But just over a month after the interview, Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called on state authorities to investigate whether a mother who was assisting the sex reassignment of her 7-year-old child was committing “child abuse.” Jeffrey Younger, the child’s father, posted falsehoods about gender-based care on his blog and captured the outrage from Republican politicians like Abbott, Paxton, and Senator Ted Cruz.
Texas lawmakers pledged to legislate in response to the Younger case. Equality Texas CEO Ricardo Martinez said earlier this year Texas passed more anti-LGBTQ laws than any other state legislature during its regular session. According to the Freedom For All Americans Bill Tracker, only Tennessee matched the amount of anti-transgender legislation introduced in Texas. A federal court in Arkansas recently banned a law criminalizing gender-based care from entering into force. Seventeen attorneys general – including Paxton – filed a brief in support of the law.
Perry and Krause, who campaigned for some of the bills against transgender children that year, did not respond to the Tribune’s request for comment. Abbott didn’t respond either.
How are these legislative attempts affecting transgender youth?
LGBTQ advocates say the political rhetoric surrounding anti-transgender legislation – and the possibility that the bills could become law – has dire implications for the mental health of trans children.
The Trevor Project found that 52% of transgender and non-binary teenagers had given serious thought to attempting suicide in the past year. It also found that over 70% of transgender children had symptoms of generalized anxiety and major depressive disorder. Last year, the organization that provides crisis counseling for LGBTQ youth received over 9,400 crisis contacts from Texas.
“The majority of transsexuals have at least struggled with depression or anxiety during their life and process,” said Adrian Warren, president of the Texas Counseling Association. “And every time the government, or indeed any institution, takes an anti-trans position, it hurts even more. And if it’s something like the government, there’s a huge potential for damage. “
What do transgender Texans think?
Abbott has not yet announced what the executive’s action on gender equality will look like. However, Texans are paying attention to what it could do and what further steps it could take to suppress gender-based care in Texas.
Many transgender children and their families have spent hours with doctors and counselors testifying at the Capitol to support gender-based care. Some are considering leaving the state if further action is taken.
Landon Richie and his family have considered moving like this. Richie, now 18, began making social and medical changes as a teenager. He was also involved in transgender activism and is now an intern with the Transgender Education Network of Texas. As a third generation Texan, he has a younger non-binary sibling, and his family has considered moving if they have to.
“Trans people absolutely belong in the state of Texas,” said Richie. “We are an integral part of the fabric of this state. But every two years the message that is sent is that trans people don’t belong. They are second class citizens. Texas doesn’t want us to exist in public life. “
The Texas Tribune provided this story.
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