Utah will become the first state to ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth in 2023

Utah this year became the first state to ban gender-affirming health care for transgender youth, as part of a wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation brewing in state homes.

The Republican-dominated state legislature accelerated the bill — which would ban transgender surgery for those under the age of 18 and ban hormone treatments for minors who have not yet been diagnosed with gender dysphoria — two days after the session opened on Jan. 17. GOP Gov. Spencer Cox signed the legislation Saturday.

So far this year, at least 10 other states have introduced bills aimed at accessing health care for transgender and gender-nonconforming people: Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

By 2022, at least 15 states will have restricted access to gender-affirming care or are considering laws that would do so, according to the Williams Institute. Some bills include fines for caregivers and even families.

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People come together in support of transgender youth at a rally at the Utah State Capitol on January 24, 2023 in Salt Lake City.

What is Gender Affirmative Care?

Gender affirming care is a term for medical care that is “highly individualized,” according to Dr. Kellan Baker, executive director of the Whitman-Walker Institute. “There is no set way to go through gender affirmation. Everyone’s needs are different.”

Care can involve social transitions such as a new name, haircut, new clothes and different pronouns — none of which are irreversible, he said. Medical care, including hormone therapy, can be crucial, he said. Drugs that delay puberty, which are reversible, Baker said, give young people time to explore their identity “free from a ticking clock.”

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What do financiers say about these accounts?

Proponents of gender-affirming care bans often claim that they protect young people from regret later in life.

Cox said in a statement that his decision was based on his belief that it was prudent to “suspend these permanent and life-changing treatments for new patients until more and better research can help determine long-term consequences.”

“While we understand that our words will bring little comfort to those who disagree with us, we sincerely hope that we can treat our transgender families with greater love and respect as we work to better understand the science and consequences behind this. procedures,” he said. .

But major medical associations — from the American Medical Association to the American Psychiatric Association — disagree, saying this kind of health care is needed.

What are the mental health consequences of a ban on young people?

Recent polls from The Trevor Project, which provides crisis and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ people under the age of 25, show the damaging toll that bills can take.

• 85% of trans and non-binary youth say recent debates over state laws restricting their rights have had a negative impact on their mental health.

• Bills that would prohibit doctors from prescribing gender-affirming medical care leave 73% of trans and non-binary youth feeling angry, 57% sad, 47% stressed, 40% scared.

CARE SAVES LIVES: Gender-affirming care helps save lives, reduces risk of depression in transgender and non-binary youth, study finds

What was the response to Utah’s bill?

Utah’s ACLU had urged Cox to veto the bill. “By suspending medical treatment supported by every major medical association in the United States, the bill jeopardizes the health and well-being of adolescents with gender dysphoria. It binds the hands of physicians and parents by limiting access to the only evidence-based treatment available for this serious medical condition and hinders their ability to meet their professional obligations,” the ACLU said in a letter to the governor. .

The Human Rights Campaign also condemned the bill. “This discriminatory legislation prohibits age-appropriate care and is supported by every major medical association, representing more than 1.3 million physicians. Medical decisions are best left to medical experts and parents or guardians,” said Cathryn Oakley , HRC State Legislative Director and Senior Council.

Contributing: Cady Stanton, TODAY USA; The associated press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Utah will become the first state in 2023 to ban gender-affirming health care

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