Human Rights Campaign Condemns Wyoming Senate for Latest Shameful Attack on Life-Saving Care for Transgender Youth

by HRC Staff

Cheyenne, WY - Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, condemned members of the Wyoming Senate for yesterday’s passage of SF 111, a bill that would, if passed, make Wyoming only the second state to impose felony penalties (including charges of child abuse and up to 10 years of imprisonment) on those who provide age appropriate, medically necessary, life-saving care to transgender youth. The bill will now head to the House for consideration. This legislation is the result of ongoing far-right pressure placed upon lawmakers, spearheaded by national anti-LGBTQ+ organizations and political extremists peddling propaganda and disinformation on social media and other platforms. It is one of hundreds of bills being pushed by national anti-LGBTQ+ organizations across dozens of states.

This bill will allow non-transgender young people to continue to receive the same treatments it will deny to transgender youth, pointing to a clear discriminatory motive by its authors and proponents.

However, many may still ask what gender-affirming care is.

Gender-affirming care is age-appropriate care that is medically necessary for the well-being of many transgender and non-binary people who experience symptoms of gender dysphoria, or distress that results from having one’s gender identity not match their sex assigned at birth. Gender-affirming care is the integration of medical, mental health and social services. For transgender children, transition is an entirely social process which may include a new name or pronouns, wearing different clothes or styling one’s hair differently. At puberty, doctors may - in consultation with and having the informed consent of the transgender youth and their parents - prescribe reversible medication known as puberty-blockers, which allow a young person to safely reach an age in which they’re truly able to consent to further treatment.

In response, Cathryn Oakley, HRC’s State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel released the following statement:

“Wyoming is where Matthew Shepard was killed in a hateful attack simply because he was gay. More than two decades later, politicians in the state are now using their power to try to keep young transgender people from life-saving care simply because of who they are. It’s shameful, dangerous and wrong. And it will make Wyoming less safe for the entire LGBTQ+ community. Matt’s legacy deserves better.

“Denying medically-necessary, age-appropriate care to youth simply because they are transgender, and telling parents and doctors that they cannot provide best-practice, sometimes life-saving care to children who need it is invasive and downright dangerous. Instead of voting on the real issues impacting the health and wellbeing of Wyoming’s youth, politicians with little to no medical background are creating a frightening and dystopian reality for families and medical providers alike. We ask the House to reject this policy that will do nothing but harm transgender youth simply trying to live life as their authentic selves, and reaffirm that Wyoming is the Equality State.”

Cathryn Oakley, HRC State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel

Get the facts about gender-affirming care:

  • Every credible medical organization – representing over 1.3 million doctors in the United States – calls for age-appropriate gender-affirming care for transgender and non-binary people.
    • “Transition-related” or “gender-affirming” care looks different for every transgender and non-binary person.

    • Parents, their kids, and doctors make decisions together, and no medical interventions with permanent consequences happen until a transgender person is old enough to give truly informed consent.

  • Gender transition is a personal process that can include changing clothes, names, and hairstyles to fit a person’s gender identity.
    • Some people take medication, and some do not; some adults have surgeries, and others do not. How someone transitions is their choice, to be made with their family and their doctor.

    • Therapists, parents and health care providers work together to determine which changes to make at a given time that are in the best interest of the child.

    • In most young children, this care can be entirely social. This means:
      • New name

      • New hairstyle

      • New clothing

      • None of this care is irreversible.

  • Being transgender is not new.
    • Some say it can feel like being transgender is very new – but that’s because the media has been covering it more in recent months and years.

    • But transgender people have always existed and will continue to exist regardless of the bills we pass.

    • And very few transgender people change their mind.

  • ALL gender-affirming care is:
    • Age-appropriate

    • Medically necessary

    • Supported by all major medical organizations

    • Made in consultation with medical and mental health professionals AND parents

  • And in many cases, this care is lifesaving!
    • A recent study from the Trevor Project provides data supporting this — transgender youth with access to gender-affirming hormone therapy have lower rates of depression and are at a lower risk for suicide.

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