Why is there a debate on providing transgender youth with gender affirming medical care?

Gender-affirming healthcare for minors has become a new frontier in the culture war.

As of March 2022, 15 states have restricted access to gender-affirming care or are currently considering laws that would do so. The bills carry severe penalties for health care providers, and sometimes families, who provide or seek out gender-affirming care for minors. The estimated number of transgender youth at risk of losing access to gender-affirming care under these bills is 58,200. Source, March, 2022

Politicians argue that transgender youth are not mature enough to make decisions about their gender identity, and are suggesting that their doctors and parents should be considered child abusers and punished for their crimes.

These arguments have no basis in fact and are contradicted by a host of studies proving that gender-affirming healthcare for minors greatly reduces anxiety and depression, and in many cases has proven life-saving for transgender youth.

All major medical organizations oppose legislative bans on gender-affirming care for young people, including The American Medical Association, The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Psychiatric Association, and The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, among others.

Essentially, these experts highlight that the efforts from Texas lawmakers and their peers in other states are completely divorced from the guidance, recommendation, and research-backed understanding of how beneficial this care can be for a transgender or nonbinary young person.

The FAQs below help to explain more...


What do the Major Medical Associations recommend with regards to providing transgender youth with gender-affirming medical care?

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) supports the use of current evidence-based clinical care with minors. AACAP strongly opposes any efforts — legal, legislative, and otherwise — to block access to these recognized interventions. Blocking access to timely care has been shown to increase youths’ risk for suicidal ideation and other negative mental health outcomes.

American Academy of Pediatrics

State legislatures across the country have advanced bills with the sole purpose of threatening the health and well-being of transgender youth. These bills are dangerous. Read our full statement here: ow.ly/DBQy50E0GkxAmerican Academy of Pediatrics@AmerAcadPeds16 Mar, 2021

American Medical Association

The American Medical Association views these bills as a dangerous legislative intrusion into the practice of medicine and has been working closely with state medical associations to vigorously oppose them. In letters to legislators, the AMA has emphasized that it is “imperative that transgender minors be given the opportunity to explore their gender identity under the safe and supportive care of a physician.”

These three groups signed onto a statement opposing these bills along with the American Counseling Association, American Public Health Association, American School Counselor Association, American School Health Association, Child Welfare League of America, Mental Health America, National Association of School Nurses, National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of Social Workers

On March 5, 2021, Major Health, Education, and Child Welfare Organizations wrote a letter oppposing Anti-LGBTQ State-Based Legislation. What did this letter say?
What does the objective research show?

Dr. Jack Turban, a fellow in child and adolescent psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine where he researches the mental health of transgender youth, states that the research he’s worked on has shown a clear link between access to gender-affirming care to “lower rates of anxiety, depression, and suicidality.”

“Similarly, parents supporting a young person in their gender identity has been linked to lower rates of suicidality and mental health problems. Criminalizing love and acceptance is both absurd and incredibly dangerous,” Turban told Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/experts-say-gender-affirming-medical-care-can-be-lifesaving-for-youth#How-anti-trans-policies-affect-young-people-seeking-care

More generally, research indicates that efforts to support transgender youth in living according to their internal sense of gender is associated with better mental health and feelings of safety at school, while efforts to change the gender identity of transgender people (i.e., conversion therapy) are associated with suicidality.