White House issues statement clarifying stance on trans youth healthcare following criticism

Neera Tanden speaking into a microphone.

The White House has issued a statement clarifying its position on gender-affirming care for trans youth in the US.

The Biden administration caused a stir after it told US publication The 19th that it is against gender-affirming surgery for trans minors and that it should be limited to adults.

Some argued that a flat-out ban on procedures for trans youth would further limit non-surgical healthcare, such as physically reversible puberty blockers.

Responding to the backlash, Domestic Policy Council director Neera Tanden said policy on gender-affirming care remains unchanged.

Writing to Human Rights Campaign president Kelley Robinson, Tanden said: “We continue to fight state and national bans on gender-affirming care, which represents a continuum of care, and respect the role of parents, families and doctors – not politicians – in these decisions.

“Gender-affirming surgeries are typically reserved for adults, and we believe they should be.”

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Joe Biden, pictured.
Joe Biden’s administration has said it opposes gender-affirming surgeries for minors. (Getty)

Despite its position on surgeries remaining the same, Tanden added that families should “have the freedom to make the medical decisions that they and their doctors determine are best for them, which is why we oppose attempts to limit healthcare for transgender individuals in the courts or through legislation”.

Robinson thanked the administration for its clarification in a statement, saying that it “reiterated what we know to be true: these types of personal healthcare decisions are best left to the families, the patient and their medical provider – and no one else”.

However, others were not sure that the statement went far enough. Independent journalist Erin Reed said the clarification still included “harmful anti-surgery language”.

Some right-wing pundits, pushing disinformation, continue to claim that trans surgeries are common and often lump them in with other more-common forms of gender-affirming care such as hormones.

It is estimated that 38 per cent of trans youth in the US live in one of the 25 states which ban gender-affirming care for under-18s, several of which use misinformation to justify the laws.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which tracks proposed anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in the US each year, have recorded 527 bills since January, many of which include gender-affirming-care bans.

In addition, 510 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced in 2023.

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