Banning gender-affirming treatment

After two failed efforts to pass a ban on gender-affirming treatment for minors, South Carolina Republicans announced in January that this year it would be a priority. This week, they succeeded, with the governor on Tuesday signing the bill to ban doctors, parents and children from securing medical care that they — and science — think is in the best interest of some children. South Carolina thus became the 25th state to substitute politics and religion for science and medicine, leaving Virginia as the only place in the South where parents can do what they and their doctors believe is best for their children.

“When God created us, he created us male and female, that's it,” the South Carolina House Majority leader and a co-sponsor of the legislation said. “All these other folks that want to change that from birth, change that through their life, we need to stand up against that.”

“All these other folks” includes the president of the South Carolina chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, who testified against the bill, pointing out that gender-affirming surgery wasn't even being performed in South Carolina and puberty blocking treatment was only being offered after extensive deliberations between doctors, parents and children. Dr. Elizabeth Mack testified that there was “no mainstream organization that doesn't support gender-affirming care.”

“Gender-affirming care is evidence-based, suicide-prevention care,” she told House Republicans who didn't want to hear it.

The law bars medical professionals from performing gender-transition surgeries, prescribing puberty blockers and overseeing hormone treatments for patients under 18. It also bars adults under 26 from using Medicaid to cover the costs for such care.

In announcing that he had signed the bill, which takes effect immediately, the governor bragged that it “protects our state's children from irreversible gender transition procedures.” Actually, it doesn't; it just makes it more difficult and costly for parents and children to get the medical care they need.

In fact, the bill was amended in the Senate to allow mental health professionals to counsel patients and their parents about banned treatments — and even suggest a place where such treatment is legal. But what about families who can't afford to travel out of state, or in the case of the South, out of the entire region, to secure the care that they need? What about adults up to age 26 who depend on Medicaid to cover health expenses?

Transgender children are the latest political target of a bankrupt political party. Same-sex marriage doesn't work anymore, and neither does reproductive freedom. Even Donald Trump has backed off from the kinds of commitments he made on those issues in 2016. So the Republicans have found new victims to torment.

Medical science provides no support for legislation like this. It's not a matter of parents' rights either; the South Carolina bill, and others like it, is a direct assault on the principle that parents and not politicians, doctors and not legislators, know what is best.

There's no question that transgender people — children and adults alike — face all kinds of discrimination and harassment. Surveys have documented it. Science unequivocally supports them. Politicians, by contrast, playing on fear and suspicion, find them a convenient target to play out anti-woke politics.

A survey of 92,000 transgender Americans found that 94% said they were more satisfied with their lives since transitioning. Among those receiving hormones, 98% said the treatments had made them more satisfied with life. That was the good news. The terrible news was high rates of unemployment and homelessness, and more than 25% reporting that they had not seen a doctor when they needed medical care because of costs and limits on access. Sixty percent of the teenagers in the survey population reported being mistreated at school, a category that included physical violence, online bullying and verbal harassment, along with being barred from using their actual names or the bathrooms that matched their gender identity.

In this environment, it is difficult enough to raise a transgender child. If you are denied access to quality and sensitive medical care, it is almost impossible. Targeting the most vulnerable among us to score political points is simply cruel.

© 2024, Creators

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