Politicians push to ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth

Brennan Mumper, Staff Writer

The past few years have seen many pieces of legislation aimed at restricting the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals in the United States, the most recent of these being a series of bills targeting transgender healthcare.

There are many options for people who want to medically transition. (Brennan Mumper)

Many transgender individuals experience gender dysphoria, which is characterized by psychological distress caused by incongruence between their physical characteristics and their identity. Untreated gender dysphoria can increase a person’s risk of developing mental illnesses, such as depression or anxiety, and can contribute to the high suicide rate among transgender people.
Gender dysphoria is treated by allowing a person to medically transition, or to alter their physical characteristics to match their identity. This can be done through the use of medically prescribed hormones, a process called “hormone replacement therapy,” or through surgeries.
This type of gender-affirming care is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the Endocrine Society, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, as well as other organizations, as best practice for treating individuals with gender dysphoria.
The recent political push against transgender health care seeks to restrict the amount of gender-affirming care that an individual can receive if they are under the age of 18. These bans range from prohibiting insurance companies from covering certain procedures to charging parents who allow their children to transition with child abuse. An estimated 58,000 transgender youth could be impacted by these bills.
In Ohio, the law currently under consideration is called the Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act, or the SAFE Act. This piece of legislation would “prohibit certain procedures to alter a minor’s sex.”
Delaware representative Kris Jordan, who supports the bill, declined to comment. Many local supporters of the bill also declined to comment.
Christa Faye Harman and Lee Webb from Delaware Ohio Pride, an organization that seeks to create a safe, diverse and inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ individuals in Delaware County, shared their thoughts on the bill.
“You’re having a bunch of people legislating about this that have no idea what they’re actually talking about,” Harman said.
“For the people that like to talk about numbers, look at the numbers,” Webb said. “Transgender kids’ suicide rate is so exponentially higher, and all these bills are doing are just adding to that, and it’s gonna make it worse. They don’t know the implications of what they’re doing.”
Marty Howard, a freshman at Hayes, agreed.
“Not being able to get hormones to drop your voice, or to get top surgery to give yourself the chest you want— it makes it insanely hard to live your life properly and at its fullest,” Howard said.
Hayes sophomore Vicky Chen also spoke about how the proposed laws could affect transgender minors.
“It also provides a kind of mental thing to people because, I mean, people go on with the fact that there’s a possibility of a future where they could have these things they want, and these laws are kind of restricting that hope,” Chen said.
Howard explained that using hormones or surgeries to transition helps transgender people pass as their gender, which alleviates gender dysphoria.
“I just really hope that people realize that these things are important, that trans youth need these things,” Howard said. “It makes you feel more comfortable in your body.”
Proponents of bills like the SAFE Act often claim that minors are too immature to make permanent decisions about their bodies, and that these young people might regret their decision to medically transition.
Howard said that he believes people under the age of 18 are mature enough to make choices about their bodies.
“I have written down in books, me questioning if I was trans, and I was 11,” Howard said. “Now I’m 14 going on 15 and I’m quite certain.”
A study by the National Library of Medicine found that less than 1% of people who medically transition end up regretting it later in life.
“If you have a medical procedure that has a 98 [or] 99 percent success rate, you should be lauded for being able to save that many people with that procedure, but it’s not being looked at that way,” Harman said.
Chen said that they had not heard about the SAFE Act until recently.
“I think it’s stupid that I literally found out about this bill, like, four days ago, when it can affect me and the people around me that much,” Chen said. “I’m just kind of appalled by the education— or, I should say, the lack of education that’s going on.”
On November 4, Florida banned doctors from prescribing gender-affirming care to adolescent patients.
“We literally fought for rights,” Chen said. “I just think it’s kind of backward by our country to restrict them.”
Harman talked about her experience as a transgender person in Ohio.
“I haven’t been living in Delaware that long, but I’ve met lots of friends while I’m here,” Harman said. “I actually like it here, I don’t want to have to move. I want to be able to keep calling Ohio my home. But it just doesn’t feel like that’s what Ohio wants. It’s hard to stay someplace when you don’t feel welcome.”