This Children’s Mental Health Week we need to acknowledge the continuous attacks on trans youths’ access to gender-affirming healthcare, which negatively impacts their mental health.

In the past decade, there has been a wider conversation around mental health. Destigmatising mental illness is part of the process. However, we also need to reduce the potential harm to children and adolescents. Harm is done when life-saving treatment such as gender-affirming care is redirected or, essentially, banned for trans youths.

Attacks on Children’s Mental Health

In 2022, the Florida Board of Medicine (FBM) decided to ban all gender-affirming medical care for trans minors. This year, Oklahoma also banned all gender-affirming healthcare for people under the age of 26. Therefore, not only are trans minors are affected by this bill but also young trans adults.

These attacks on trans youth’s access to trans healthcare impacts their mental health and well-being. Research done by the trans and gender diverse youth charity Mermaids confirms that the Bell v Tavistock case negatively affected their mental health. The case sought to restrict young people’s access to puberty blockers and hormones. Another study proved that puberty blockers help decrease suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts in trans children.

A recent study done in the Netherlands confirmed that 98% of trans adolescents who underwent gender-affirming treatment with puberty blockers continued with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in their adulthood. A further 2022 study also demonstrated that gender-affirming top surgery improves chest dysphoria and body image in young transmasculine people.

Moreover, a 2023 study released in the New England Journal of Medicine also confirmed that gender-affirming healthcare improves the mental health of trans adolescents and teenagers. All of these studies and research prove that gender-affirming treatment for trans children and teenagers is necessary and beneficial. It improves their mental health and overall well-being.

Tips on How to Help

We would like to offer you some tips on how to help trans youths who are dealing with a mental illness. If you know a child or young person who is struggling with their mental health, make sure to:

  • Validate their experiences, even if you are not able to understand them yet
  • Assure them that they are not alone and are very much loved by you and the people around them
  • Carefully propose going to a therapist or counsellor for help (if this is possible)
  • Accept them for who they are. This is especially important if your child’s mental health struggles are due to their gender identity or sexual orientation. Being queer or trans is not a choice. In a world that already marginalises them for being who they are, be the person to accept and love them unconditionally.

Research by The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention organisation for LGBTQ+ youth, found that having at least one supporting parent can reduce the chance of a young queer or trans person attempting suicide by 40%. Supporting your LGBTQ+ child will improve their mental health. One of their recent polls also showcased the negative impact anti-trans bills and policies have had on trans and non-binary youth’s mental health.

At GenderGP, we offer counselling services for adults as well as young people. You may also want to check out our parent and family therapy sessions. Remember that if you would like to speak to a professional counsellor, we are here for you. You will be able to discuss any challenges you are currently dealing with, in a non-judgmental environment.