Medical article likens gender-affirming care bans to abuse

A person holds up a sign during an LGBTQ+ demonstration that reads 'gender-affirming care saves lives' in the colours of the trans pride flag

A medical article written by doctors at Seattle Children’s Hospital has likened bans on gender-affirming care for minors to neglect and abuse.

The article, published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, outlines how withholding gender-affirming care for transgender and gender-diverse minors “amounts to state-sanctioned medical neglect and emotional abuse.”

In the first few weeks of 2024 alone, lawmakers across the US have introduced more than 250 anti-LGBTQ+ bills – most of which specifically target the transgender community.

One of the most common subjects of anti-trans bills is a ban on gender-affirming care for minors, including the prescription of puberty blockers and hormones.

A person holds up a trans flag.
Doctors at Seattle Children’s Hospital have likened gender-affirming care bans for minors to abuse. (Getty)

Bans like this have already been introduced in a number of states across the US despite heavy public pushback and an overwhelming wealth of research that prove the safety and effectiveness of gender-affirming care.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, 508 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced in 2023.

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Commenting on this, the article reads: “In recent years, we have witnessed a dangerous trend of transphobia and prejudice toward transgender and gender diverse (TGD) children.

“These legislative efforts operate under the guise of protecting children. In reality, they punish caregivers and physicians when they choose to support children.”

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It goes on to claim that these bills are denying children access to ”routine health care that has been shown to decrease dramatically high rates of suicide and depression for TGD youth.”

Not only that, but the increase in anti-LGBTQ+ and specifically anti-trans bills fuels “discriminatory rhetoric, which negatively impacts the mental health of TGD children and imperils their safety.”

In a comment under the article, one of the authors, Dr Emily Georges notes that, contrary to what many lawmakers who introduce anti-trans bills might spout, gender-affirming care is a “holistic, patient-centered approach” done “in partnership with the patient, the family, and the medical provider” – as should be the case at any clinic visit for any child.

The article comes just one month after Seattle Children’s Hospital filed a legal complaint against Texas attorney Ken Paxton, after he allegedly requested documents of under-18 patients from Texas who he believed had undergone gender-affirming care.

The lawsuit argued that Paxton’s alleged request was a overstep and an “unconstitutional attempt to investigate and chill potential interstate commerce and travel for Texas residents to another state.”

His concerning alleged request comes one year after the Republican reportedly demanded a list of every trans person in Texas, including their personal details and driving license information.

No data was provided to the attorney general following his reported request, DPS said in a statement, adding that no such data exists or could be “accurately produced.”

Texas is one of a number of US states that have successfully outlawed gender-affirming care for trans people under the age of 18.

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Gender-affirming care, which had been widely available across the US for over a decade, is endorsed by major medical associations including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicians, the American Medical Association, the World Medical Association, and the World Health Organisation.

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