The Fight Over Health Care for Transgender Youth


New essay out from my dear sibling–and dissertation director–Prof. Adam Briggle, Ph.D. (UNT-Denton).

This year 21 states are considering legislation to prohibit trans youth from receiving gender-affirming health care, including drugs that temporarily delay puberty, hormones for the development or suppression of secondary sex characteristics (such as breasts or facial hair), and gender-affirming surgeries (which are extremely rare in minors, as standards of care recommend deferring surgery until the age of 18 years). Arkansas passed a bill prohibiting gender-affirming health care. Texas is considering more of these bills than any other state: SB 1311 and HB 1399 would strip the licenses and insurance from any doctors who provide gender-affirming care. SB 1646 and HB 68 would classify parents like me and my wife Amber as child abusers if we seek gender-affirming care for Max.

Once again, trans-inclusive families must publicly defend our private lives. It is not enough to say, “leave us alone,” because we are being accused of harming our children. So we are forced into a debate in which both sides trade what they call scientific evidence. As a philosopher who has spent a career thinking about how science is framed and used in politics, I find myself in territory that is both familiar and newly harrowing. The proponents of these bills use a handful of studies showing that most gender-questioning youth “desist” once they go through natal puberty (that is, puberty of the sex they were assigned at birth).

We point out the flaws in these studies. The studies highlight cases where children were rushed into decisions they later regretted. We note that that is a failure to follow existing guidelines. Proponents of these bills emphasize the health risks of hormone therapies and their unknown long-term risks. We emphasize the benefits of these therapies and point out that all medicines have risks. They say that children don’t have the cognitive capacity to make major decisions. We say that kids know their gender identity from a young age. They say that kids should wait before making decisions. We argue that waiting is also a decision; indeed, there is no possibility of not choosing.

Read the entire article: The Fight Over Health Care for Transgender Youth | Issues in Science and Technology

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