Last year, 20% of transgender and non-binary youth attempted suicide and 52% seriously considered it. It was also the worst year for anti-trans legislation, as reported by the Human Rights Campaign, with 147 anti-trans bills proposed and several laws enacted. These included 81 bills targeting transgender youth athletes, and 43 bills to prevent trans youth from receiving gender-affirming health care.
As a transgender youth myself, these statistics are more than just numbers. They’re my friends, my classmates and my peers — and these bills are attacks on our human rights.
Here in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered state child welfare officials to conduct child abuse investigations over reports of transgender kids receiving gender-affirming care, leaving transgender kids “terrified” and social workers “distraught.” Criminalizing gender-affirming care that is recommended by countless medical professionals, including the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the American Psychiatric Association, puts transgender youth at risk.
Gender-affirming care — treatments ranging from surgery to speech therapy that support a transgender or nonbinary person in their gender transition — is “significantly related to lower rates of depression, suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts” among transgender youth. Nationwide attacks on gender-affirming health care for trans youth are not only a threat to their mental health but their lives as well.
A common misconception shared by many in the general public and governments proposing these laws is that doctors are handing out hormone treatments to young kids who are unsure of themselves, leading them to regret their decisions later in life. However, this is not the case. The most common treatment for trans youth is hormone blockers, a treatment also used for cisgender children who start puberty too early. This treatment is 100% reversible and does wonders for the mental health of trans kids. Hormone replacement therapy is only offered to transgender teens after seeing a specialized psychologist and passing multiple screenings. Banning this care does so much more harm than good.
To many kids, a lack of access to this care makes life infinitely harder. The threat of something this important being ripped from the hands of trans youth only increases the possibility of mental health issues and even death. Gender-affirming health care is essential for many trans youth and should be accessible to anyone who needs it.
“When it comes to bills that target trans youth I immediately feel angry, it’s been very scary and overwhelming,” said Kai Shappley, an 11-year-old trans girl living in Texas. Kai’s words resonate with so many. Kids like us are sick and tired of living in fear and uncertainty over what rights of ours are going to be targeted next.
We don’t deserve to live in fear for ourselves and our peers. Gender-affirming care is a human right, and trans kids across the nation aren’t any less human. Trans youth deserve better.