Again and again, state politicians are passing laws to punish trans children and their families. Citing bogus concerns about “health” or “safety,” these politicians want to keep young trans people from the care they need
Politicians banning necessary health care for so-called “safety” reasons? Sound familiar? It should — because the same politicians and activists who use this playbook to limit or ban abortion care use the same reasons for keeping trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming kids from essential health care, too.
Here’s what you need to know.
What’s Gender-affirming Care?
Gender-affirming care is health care that can help trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people look or feel like their actual gender, not the one given to them at birth. To do that, doctors may use treatments like puberty blockers and hormone therapy, but it can also include counseling, support groups, voice therapy, and more.
It’s about giving trans and nonbinary youth the resources they deserve to thrive. Every major medical and mental health association in the United States recognizes gender-affirming care as medically necessary for trans and nonbinary youth.
Let’s say that again: EVERY MAJOR MEDICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION.
Abortion Opponents Are Attacking Gender-affirming Care
Even though medical associations agree, politicians have introduced a record 200 anti-trans bills in 2023.
Just in the first week of April, Idaho became the sixth state to restrict life-saving care for trans youth. The first gender-affirming care ban passed in Arkansas in 2021, and politicians in Utah and South Dakota have signed such bans into law this year.
These bans on gender-affirming care aren’t just an attack on trans people. They’re part of a coordinated attack on all of our freedoms. Mother Jones magazine, in a March 2023 article, reported on the ties between anti-abortion activists and the campaign against trans youth:
Same Extremists, Same Playbook
How deep do the ties run?
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) — a group flagged by Mother Jones for supporting a gender-affirming care ban in South Dakota — is the same group helping anti-abortion extremists pursue a sham lawsuit to force mifepristone, a drug commonly used in medication abortion, off the market.
Missouri’s attorney general, the author of a new regulation that would put gender-affirming care out of reach for both youth and adults, joined other anti-abortion state attorneys general in endorsing the sham lawsuit to block access to mifepristone.
A politician named by Mother Jones as a sponsor of ADF anti-trans legislation in Georgia — state Rep. Ginny Ehrhart — co-sponsored Georgia’s ban on abortion at six weeks of pregnancy.
A leading sponsor of Idaho’s new ban on gender-affirming care for young people also wants to cut off essential funds to cities and counties that refuse to charge people for violating the state’s abortion laws.
As journalist Irin Carmon wrote for New York magazine this April, “the same small group of people who have made abortion almost impossible in swaths of the country (and aren’t done yet) are now trying to ban trans health care.”
“Stigmatized health care — abortion and gender-affirming care — are sometimes siloed off from the rest of the medical community, and so a lot of the community clinics kind of group together,” [an American Civil Liberties Union strategist] said. … That fact is not lost on the Missouri state government. When abortion was legal in Missouri, state health officials subjected Planned Parenthood to fishing expeditions, including an infamous spreadsheet that officials admitted tracked patients’ last menstrual periods. Now the attorney general has opened up a new probe related to trans health care.”
Here’s the bottom line: Young people deserve access to affordable health care, whether it’s having an abortion or getting gender-affirming care.
Trans futures include reproductive futures. Reproductive rights include trans rights.
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