Texas doctor shares ‘amazing’ first-hand experience of supporting trans kids

A doctor listens to the heartbeat of a young client

A doctor in Texas has explained how gender-affirming care can transform the lives of trans youth amid attempts to criminalise such medical treatments. 

Republican governor Greg Abbott issued a directive in late February calling on the state’s child protection agency to investigate parents and guardians who are supporting their trans children’s healthcare for “child abuse”. 

A district court judge issued a ruling on Friday (11 March) temporarily blocking such investigations statewide, but the battle is far from over as Texas attorney general Ken Paxton has already vowed to appeal the judgement. 

Amid growing concern from trans rights advocates and allies around the world, paediatrician and endocrinologist  Dr Jane Wray spoke to Texas Standard about how gender-affirming treatments can be an effective way to help trans people bring their “body into sync with their mind”. 

“I have seen amazing things,” Wray said. “People who were on five medications for depression come back, and they’re on one.”

She continued: “People that have frequent admissions to the psychiatric hospital no longer have admissions to that – they become happy. 

“This is with gender-affirming care. And the studies show that the rate of suicide attempts or success are twice that of the general adolescent population. 

“After they begin transition, it falls to normal for the adolescent numbers. And so this is essential, and without it, the statistics show that many of these children may die.”

A study published in the journal JAMA Open Network found young trans people who receive gender-affirming healthcare are significantly less likely to become depressed or attempt suicide in the following year

Gender-affirming care for trans youth was associated with 73 per cent lower odds of suicidality over a period of a year and 60 per cent lower odds of moderate or severe depression. 

The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health revealed over half (52 per cent) of trans and non-binary young people considered suicide in the past year, with one in five (20 per cent) attempting suicide in the same time frame. 

The charity, which works on suicide prevention and crisis intervention for LGBT+ young people – has spoken out repeatedly against attacks on trans youth in Texas. 

It reported that it received more than 14,500 calls, chats, and texts from young LGBT+ Texans in crisis last year.

Sadly, Texas’ only gender clinic for trans kids closed last year after a dedicated campaign from anti-trans activists. 

Earlier this month, Texas Children’s Hospital, the largest paediatric hospital in the state, halted all hormone therapies for trans kids after Abbott’s directive. The hospital said the decision was made to “safeguard our healthcare professionals” and families of trans youth from “potential criminal legal ramifications”. 

Suicide is preventable. Readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org), or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). ​Readers in the US are encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255.