Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. But across the country, politicians desperate to gain power and their allies in the media are attacking LGBTQ+ people and making it impossible, particularly for transgender and non-binary youth, to be their authentic selves. State legislatures, governors and administrative agencies across the country are taking steps to eliminate access to gender-affirming care — medically necessary, safe health care backed by decades of research and supported by every major medical association representing over 1.3 million U.S. doctors. Some are even going as far as to accuse parents who support their transgender children of child abuse. This disinformation campaign is also fueling threats and violence against providers of gender-affirming care, preventing them from supporting the communities they are meant to serve.
As attacks on the LGBTQ+ community continue to gain steam, it is important to get the facts about 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. Every major medical and mental health organization recognizes that it is medically necessary to support people in affirming their gender identity.
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 doctors. 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.
Before puberty, transition is entirely social. This means:
None of this care is irreversible.
Parents, young people and medical professionals – including mental health providers – make decisions together, and no medical interventions with permanent consequences happen until a transgender person is old enough to give truly informed consent. Gender-affirming care is not provided without heavy consideration and consultation with all involved parties.
Gender-affirming care, also sometimes referred to as transition-related care, looks different for every transgender and non-binary person.
Every credible medical organization, including the American Medical Association and the Academy of Pediatrics, supports age-appropriate, gender-affirming care for transgender and non-binary people. These doctors represent over 1.3 million doctors in the United States. Gender-affirming care has always existed and isn’t a new phenomenon — it’s just that in recent years, extremist politicians have made it into an issue for their own self-gain.
Being transgender is not new.
People’s awareness that people are transgender is definitely increasing. Partially that’s because transgender people feel safer about coming out. It is also partially because the media has been discussing transgender people more in recent months and years. Transgender people have always existed and will continue to exist regardless of harmful laws that pass.
Transition means different things to different people. In many cases, this looks as simple as changing clothing or letting one's hair grow (or not!). For others, puberty-blocking medication may be used to allow time for the person to learn more about themselves.
And very few transgender people change their mind about transitioning.
Yes. In many cases this care is life-saving. A recent study from the Trevor Project shows that transgender youth with access to gender-affirming care have lower rates of depression and are at a lower risk for suicide. People do not seek gender-affirming care lightly, and these decisions should be treated just like any other form of health care.