A third of trans kids risk losing gender-affirming care under swathe of cruel bills, study finds

Crowd of people hold up signs in support of trans youth across the USA

An estimated 58,200 trans youth are at risk of losing access to gender-affirming healthcare as a direct result of Republican-led attempts to ban treatments. 

new study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law laid bare how the bans are putting a staggering number of trans minors in jeopardy of losing life-saving medical care.

According to the report, 15 states have either banned access to gender-affirming care or are currently considering laws that would severely restrict such treatment for trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming youth in the US. 

As a result, an estimated 53,800 trans kids aged 13 to 17, who live in these states, are currently at risk of losing access to gender-affirming care. This is nearly a third of the estimated 150,000 trans youth in the US. 

An additional 4,400 trans young adults living in Alabama, North Carolina and Oklahoma are at risk of losing access to gender-affirming medical care, the Williams Institute reported. 

Conservative lawmakers are pushing legislation in these three states that would restrict access to gender-affirming medical care for people aged between 18 and 20. 

Kerith J Conron – lead author of the report, the Blachford-Cooper distinguished scholar and research director at the Williams Institute – said a “growing body of research” has shown that gender-affirming care improves mental health and “overall wellbeing” of trans people, including young people. 

“Efforts that support transgender youth in living according to their gender identity are associated with better mental health,” Conron added. 

A landmark study by the Trevor Project – a US-based LGBT+ suicide prevention organisation – found that access to gender-affirming hormone therapy can significantly decrease the risk of suicidal ideation, suicide attempts and depression in young trans people

Trans youth who take gender-affirming hormone therapy are nearly 40 per cent less likely to have been depressed or attempted suicide in the last year compared with trans youth who want hormones but don’t receive them, the study found. 

The Trevor Project CEO and executive director Amit Paley said it was “clear” from the research that gender-affirming care “has the potential to reduce rates of depression and suicide attempts” and denounced attempts to ban this “vital care”. 

“It’s critical that all transgender and non-binary youth across the country have access to medical care that is affirming, patient-centred and evidence-based,” Paley said. 

Arkansas is facing legal action against its trans healthcare ban that was passed into law last year despite the governor’s veto. 

The Williams Institute’s report estimated the legislation impacted nearly 1,500 trans youth seeking gender-affirming care in the state. 

The study also believed as many as 13,800 trans youths in Texas were impacted by governor Greg Abbott’s order calling on the state’s child welfare agency to open “child abuse” investigations into parents seeking gender-affirming care for their trans kids.

In March, a Texas court rejected efforts by the state’s Conservative leaders to continue investing “child abuse” claims against parents of trans youth

This ruling was upheld by an appeals court on Monday (21 March), reinforcing a temporary injunction blocking Texas officials from investigating supportive parents statewide.