We are only three months into the new year and so many US states have banned or plan to ban gender-affirming healthcare for trans minors.
Banning Gender-Affirming Healthcare
2023 has just started. However, US states are banning gender-affirming healthcare left and right. These anti-trans bills target specifically young trans people. Trans children and adolescents living in the US are under attack right now.
To make matters worse, former US President Donald Trump has promised to ban all gender-affirming healthcare for trans kids, if he were to be re-elected as president in 2024. Trump described trans healthcare as an ‘act of child abuse’. He plans to stop this ‘chemical, physical, and emotional mutilation of our youth’.
This is Trump’s most viscous attack on trans rights yet. He will also establish a bill recognising only two genders: male and female. It is clear, to the surprise of no-one, that Trump is completely ignorant about gender-affirming healthcare as well as the multiplicity of biological sex.
Florida, Oklahoma and Mississippi were among the first states to propose a ban on trans healthcare for minors. In January 2023, Utah joined them. Utah became the first state in 2023 to ban gender-affirming healthcare effective immediately.
The primarily Republican legislature prioritised this anti-trans legislation and passed it through quickly in January. The House approved it and only one day later, the Senate passed it, and the Governor Spencer Cox signed it into law. However, trans children who had been diagnosed with gender dysphoria before the bill, are still able to receive gender-affirming treatment. This is only if they meet certain requirements. The same rules apply for trans people who were already on hormone replacement therapy.
In February 2023, South Dakota followed the other states’ decision. The senate approved a new ban on gender-affirming healthcare. This ban requires all trans youth in the state to de-transition before the year ends. The bill passed with a 30 to 4 vote. All doctors are banned from providing any form of trans healthcare to minors.
Republican Governor Kristi Noem signed the bill into law that bans the prescription of puberty blockers and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for all trans people under the age of 18. The ban also extends to gender-affirming surgeries. Trans minors in South Dakota will need to stop their healthcare treatment by December 31st 2023.
This decision to force a de-transition on trans kids who are trying to live their lives as themselves is beyond inhumane. Only in emergency situations, where a trans person’s health is at risk, does the bill permit doctors to ‘systematically reduce’ puberty blockers and hormones.
To the surprise of no one, this anti-trans legislation includes one particular exception. Non-consensual surgeries on intersex children can be provided under the new law. Meaning, the senate in South Dakota will ban all consensual gender-affirming surgeries but will allow all non-consensual surgeries on intersex people. Instead of advocating for trans and intersex rights, this government managed to harm both communities with one bill.
Unfortunately, it does not end here. Tennessee’s legislature also passed a similar anti-trans bill in February 2023. Given that Governor Bill Lee is a Republican and that the Tennessee legislature is majority Republican, it is likely that they will all approve this bill. In Utah, South Dakota and Tennessee all trans patients are allowed to take legal action against their providers up to the age of 25.
Tennessee’s new anti-trans bill bans minors from accessing puberty blockers, hormone replacement therapies and gender-related surgeries. Similarly to South Dakota, it requires trans children to end their current gender-affirming treatment by March 2024.
Bullying Trans Children
In the meantime, besides the continuous ban on gender-affirming healthcare, the state of Montana introduced a bill that would allow students to misgender and deadname other classmates. According to the bill, Montana schools cannot punish students who purposely misgender or deadname their trans peers.
This bill will only increase bullying against trans people. It would also worsen trans children’s mental health. Governments should keep their children safe, not allow discrimination against them to continue. Schools and personnel should stop any form of violence before it gets worse. Instead, trans children will have to fear getting an education because of the potential dangers they could experience.
The Human Rights Campaign, one of the largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organisations in the US, disapproved of Montana’s new cruel bill. They demanded all trans kids receive the same opportunity as everyone else. The bill would make trans students feel ‘alienated and ostracised at school – a place where they should have the chance to learn and grow in a welcoming environment’.
Attack on Trans Rights and Gender-Affirming Healthcare
It is disheartening to see all these US states banning life-saving care. Gender-affirming healthcare is safe, and it is vital as many trans youths rely on it. Research and new studies prove that trans healthcare improves trans people’s mental health as well as their overall well-being. Major medical associations such as the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Associate and the American Academy of Pediatrics, have all endorsed gender-affirming healthcare.
Yet conservative governments dismiss this research under the false pretence of doing what is seemingly right for the children. Instead of helping a community that has long been marginalised, lawmakers are restricting trans youth’s human rights one step at a time. A new study has also confirmed that the regret rates of gender-affirming surgery are extremely low. Only 0.3% were not satisfied with their surgery outcome, compared to 99.7% who were.
With all this research available to the public, why do some politicians continue to target trans kids? The answer is quite simple: they do not care about the trans and gender diverse community. This is exactly why we need to keep fighting for access to gender-affirming healthcare for ALL trans people.
As the civil rights group ACLU of Utah stated, trans youth deserve to ‘grow up without constant political attacks on their lives and healthcare’. We see you and we will fight for you.