World’s largest psych organisation says ‘damaging’ gender affirming care bans are wrong

An activist holds up a trans Pride flag with the transgender chevron printed on top of it.

Gender-affirming care bans are damaging and wrong, according to the largest psychological organisation in the world.

Following a resolution taken on Wednesday (28 February), the American Psychological Association (APA) announced that it is fully supportive of gender-affirming care and equally opposed to bans on the medical practice.

Passed by an overwhelming vote of 153-9, the policy states that gender-affirming healthcare, including for trans youth, is consistent with the organisation’s mission to promote beneficial, evidence-based care.

The policy also addresses the spread of misinformation around gender-affirming care for trans people, which, it says, leads to “unfounded narratives that mischaracterise gender dysphoria and affirming care, likely [to result] in further stigmatisation.”

The resolution continues: “Misinformation further creates distress and confusion for families and loved ones of transgender, gender-diverse and non-binary individuals.

“The primary goal is to encourage psychologists to unite in their support for access to psychological and all appropriate healthcare services and treatment for transgender, gender-diverse and non-binary individuals.”

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Among several of its APA statements is a clear-cut declaration that “gender-based bias” and “mistreatment” pose significant psychological harm to transgender individuals and can increase the risk of suicide and self-harm.

In addition, it’s accepted that psychologists often play a vital role in trans people’s ability to access treatment and, as such, must be informed by scientific findings and advances rather than misinformation.

The adoption of the resolution “reaffirms APA’s dedication to promoting inclusivity”, the organisation’s president, Cynthia de las Fuentes, said.

“It sends a clear message that state bans on gender-affirming care disregard the comprehensive body of medical and psychological research supporting the positive impact of such treatments in alleviating psychological distress and improving overall well-being for transgender, gender diverse and non-binary individuals.”

This year has already been unprecedented for the number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the US. According to data collected by the American Civil Liberties Union, at least 465 pieces of legislation aimed at the queer community have been filed across state legislatures since 1 January.

Another community-based data sheet, collected by activists including legislative researcher Allison Chapman and journalist Erin Reed, estimates the number to be 469. Coupled with a rollover of 162 bills from last year, there are estimated to be 631 currently active anti-LGBTQ+ bills waiting to be passed.

“We believe that access to evidence-based health care is a fundamental right for everyone, and this policy reflects our commitment to promoting social justice and equity in health care,” de las Fuentes continued.

“APA also affirms the essential role and rights of parents and care-givers to ensure the well-being of children and adolescents, while honouring their expressed gender identity.”

The APA is the leading scientific and professional organisation representing psychology in the United States, with more than 157,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students as members. It has task forces that issue policy statements on matters of social importance, including abortion, human rights, the rights of the mentally ill, “conversion therapy” and gender equality.

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