Des Moines, Iowa – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — condemned Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds for signing Senate File 538 into law. The bill is an anti-LGBTQ+ bill that will ban age-appropriate, medically necessary care for transgender youth. The legislature passed this bill just days after a record-breaking number of Iowans came to Des Moines to protest the slew of anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced by Iowa lawmakers this year. Iowa now becomes the eighth state to enact a law restricting access to gender affirming care.
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一in consultation with and having the informed consent of the transgender youth and their parents一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.
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.
Transgender children are not undergoing irreversible medical changes.
This is a fundamental misunderstanding about what transition looks like for kids.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Three months into 2023, HRC is already tracking 410 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been introduced in statehouses across the country. 175 of those would specifically restrict the rights of transgender people, the highest number of bills targeting transgender people in a single year to date.
So far this year, HRC is tracking:
More than 100 bills that would prevent trans youth from being able to access age-appropriate, medically-necessary, best-practice health care; four have already become law, in Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah.
More bathroom ban bills filed than in any previous year,
And 28 anti-LGBTQ+ bills which have passed at least one chamber, 10 of which are specifically anti-trans.
In a coordinated push led by national anti-LGBTQ+ groups, which deployed vintage discriminatory tropes, politicians in statehouses across the country introduced 315 discriminatory anti-LGBTQ+ bills in 2022 and 29 passed into law. Despite this, fewer than 10% of these efforts succeeded. The majority of the discriminatory bills – 149 bills – targeted the transgender and non-binary community, with the majority targeting children receiving the brunt of discriminatory legislation. By the end of the 2022 legislative session, a record 17 bills attacking transgender and non-binary children passed into law.
Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation took several forms, including:
80 bills aimed to prevent transgender youth from playing school sports consistent with their gender identity. 19 states now exclude transgender athletes in school sports.
42 bills to prevent transgender and non-binary youth from receiving life-saving, medically-necessary gender-affirming healthcare. 8 states now have laws restricting access to gender-affirming care.
70 curriculum censorship bills tried to turn back the clock and restrict teachers from discussing LGBTQ+ issues and other marginalized communities in their classrooms. 7 passed into law.
For more information, please visit https://www.hrc.org/resources/get-the-facts-on-gender-affirming-care
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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