Gender-affirming care is a form of healthcare that includes medical, surgical, mental health, and non-medical services for transgender and nonbinary people. Early-gender affirming care is crucial to the well-being of transgender and nonbinary children (TGNB) and adolescents because it helps with social transitions and can provide resources while navigating the complicated American healthcare system. Overall, the gender-affirming care model affirms diversity in gender identity and highly focuses on the needs of each individual.
Gender-affirming care is important. In the United States alone, an estimated 1.4 million people identify as transgender, and 1.2 million adults identify as nonbinary. Studies have shown that receiving gender-affirming care has been associated with lowering nearly 73% of the odds of suicidal thoughts among TGNB. Many prestigious medical organizations such, as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and the Endocrine Society, support gender-affirming care.
Unfortunately, a number of bills have been introduced in the last two years attempting to limit, ban, or criminalize access to gender-affirming treatment for minors. Republican state senators have taken several measures to limit access to gender-affirming care by banning critical components of this care such as puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and surgeries for minors. For example, the “Arkansas Senate passed a bill prohibiting doctors from treating transgender, and nonbinary minors (TGNB) with puberty blockers and gender-affirming surgery…” To that end, Arkansas is not the only state to propose these types of bills. Just last month, Tennessee’s Senator Jack Johnson opened a discussion on a bill he is co-sponsoring to limit gender-affirming care such as hormone therapy and other medical services for TGNB. Moreover, there is recent news that Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green will introduce a bill calling gender-affirming care for minors a felony. Congresswoman Green called gender-affirming care “a new-disturbing ideology” that is making billions from “confused children who believe they are transgender.” Several states across the country have acted to restrict such care for minors.
Although the ideology behind restricting gender-affirming care for minors was due to minors not having the “mental capacity to make such decisions,” republican senators are now also reaching out to take away access to affirming care from low-income people, including adults. Senator Jackson is also backing the HB1215 bill which prohibits Tennessee’s Medicaid program from working with healthcare insurance companies from covering gender-affirming care. Until this year, most proposed legislation targeted people under 18, but now some block Medicaid from covering it for all ages.
While the opposition against gender-affirming care started to “protect” youth, now it is targeting all the transgender and nonbinary communities. Transgender rights advocates view bans on gender-affirming care as part of a broader attack on transgender rights. To have gender-inclusive health care means to have gender-affirming care as an option for transgender and nonbinary people.