Proposed ban on life-saving gender-affirming care is quickly advancing in the legislature
Jackson, Mississippi — The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — condemned today’s Senate Committee passage of legislation that will prohibit doctors from providing gender-affirming care to transgender youth. HB1125, which passed the House less than two weeks ago, now awaits consideration by the full Senate before heading to Governor Tate Reeves’s desk.
Human Rights Campaign Mississippi State Director Rob Hill issued the following statement today:
“Politicians who don’t have an ounce of medical training are interfering with our rights as parents and acting as if they know how to raise and support our children better than we do. Attacking LGBTQ+ Mississippians will not solve any problems or make life easier for working folks in this state. The only thing it will accomplish is to further demonize and alienate transgender kids who are already among our most vulnerable students.. Mississippi deserves better.”
In addition to banning doctors from providing gender-affirming care, HB1125 blocks insurance companies and Medicaid from reimbursing parents for their children’s care. If it becomes law, doctors providing gender-affirming treatment will risk losing their licenses and be subject to civil lawsuits for 30 years. Medical and mental health professionals have repeatedly spoken out in opposition to anti-gender-affirming legislation like this one, which interferes with their ability to provide best-practice, often life-saving care.
A record number of 315 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were filed in statehouses across the United States last year, largely focused on denying transgender youth the ability to receive gender-affirming care and participate in school athletics programs, with even more expected to be filed in 2023. Arkansas and Alabama have passed such laws and both are currently stayed pending the conclusion of litigation challenging them; an executive action in Texas is similarly stayed. Utah was the first state in 2023 to pass a law preventing gender-affirming, with Mississippi poised to become the second this year and fourth law overall. These bills are extreme, rooted in misinformation and lies about gender-affirming care, and are contrary to medical best practices.
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. Sexual orientation and gender identity are real concepts recognized by major medical and mental health associations – including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry – as part of the normal spectrum of human experience. Health care providers who work with transgender and non-binary people — including young people — are providing life-saving care, with many patients driving hundreds of miles just to get to their doctor’s office.
More than 7,000 people, including parents of transgender, non-binary and cisgender children, have signed an open letter condemning state attacks on transgender and non-binary youth.
“Transition-related” or “gender-affirming” care looks different for every transgender and non-binary person. Some transgender and non-binary people may only socially transition, such as using a new name and pronouns, and dressing in a way that is consistent with their gender identity. Others may socially and medically transition, including undergoing hormone therapy and/or gender affirmation surgery. Each person’s journey is unique to them and their medical needs. At the same time, many transgender and non-binary people cannot afford gender-affirming medical treatment, nor can they access it. Hormone therapy and surgical care are not offered to young people, but reserved for those who can give truly informed consent.
Transgender children are not undergoing irreversible medical changes. This is a fundamental misunderstanding about what transition looks like for kids, which is primarily about providing social support, using the right name and pronouns, and allowing them to present in a way that is consistent with their gender identity. Therapists, parents and health care providers work together to determine which changes to make at a given time are in the best interest of the child.
Not all transgender and non-binary people who transition have surgery. Many transgender and non-binary people transition without surgery. Some have no desire to pursue surgeries or medical intervention. Transgender children do not undergo gender-affirming surgeries, but may receive fully reversible medications that put puberty on hold under the care of a licensed medical provider. More permanent medical interventions do not occur until a transgender person is of age to give truly informed consent.
Gender-affirming health care is lifesaving. For transgender people, being denied critically necessary transition-related care can extend and exacerbate the stress and discomfort caused by gender dysphoria, leading to increased incidences of depression and substance abuse, as well as health complications caused by delaying care. Ensuring that transgender and non-binary people have access to trans-affirming health 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. Another study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, agreed, saying, "receipt of gender-affirming care, including puberty blockers and gender-affirming hormones, was associated with 60% lower odds of moderate or severe depression and 73% lower odds of suicidality over a 12-month follow-up." Additionally, the Trevor Project study shows that parental support is vital in ensuring transgender youth’s mental and physical health.
Detransitioning is very rare. Medical regret is even rarer. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality’s 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, only 3% of respondents have detransitioned permanently at some point. The vast majority of respondents who detransition only do so temporarily. Detransitioning is often conflated with medical regret; however, detransitioning can include nonmedical parts of someone’s transition, such as changes in their gender expression or legal changes to their identity. One study found that less than one-half of one percent of trans patients who have received gonadectomy report surgical regret. Also, there is no scientific evidence showing that surgical regret would cause trans people to forego surgery in hindsight. Surgical regret could include trans patients who do not regret receiving surgery, but may be disappointed with one or more minor details relating to the outcome of their surgery. Trans people who also regret one or more parts of their surgery do not always detransition. When respondents detransition, it could include reasons beyond surgical regret. According to that same survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality, respondents who detransitioned cited a number of reasons for doing so, including facing too much harassment or discrimination after they began transitioning (31%), having trouble getting a job (29%), or pressure from a parent (36%), spouse (18%), or other family members (26%).
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.
For more information, please visit hrc.org/transgender as well as these resources:
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
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