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July/August 2022Vol. 23, No. 6Discriminatory Transgender Health Bills Have Critical Consequences for Youth

Child Trends published a brief that provides the context, definitions, and benefits of gender-affirming care as well as how anti-LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and/or questioning) health policies harm LGBTQ+ youth. Young people are increasingly expressing gender identities that are different than the genders they were assigned at birth. At the same time, several states are passing discriminatory laws that deny access to gender-affirming care or criminalizing adults that facilitate it. Having access to gender-affirming care has been proven to be beneficial, while preventing access leads to poor mental and physical health outcomes.

Gender-affirming care is developmentally dependent and appropriate and can include name, pronoun, and identification card changes. For older adolescents, it may include, after careful consideration, puberty blockers and supportive hormone therapy. When transgender youth are supported in their identities, they have outcomes–including for mental health and academics—more in line with their cisgender peers. When health care aimed at LGBTQ+ youth is made inaccessible or criminalized, it can increase youth's overall risk of experiencing violence and poorer health outcomes.

The brief also provides recommendations that policymakers can use to create gender-affirming policies. Child welfare and related professionals on all levels should recognize the importance of gender-affirming care and understand that it is a necessary, medically indicated treatment. Policies should focus on ensuring and protecting transgender youth's access to gender-affirming care.

For full definitions, recommendations, and resources, read Discriminatory Transgender Health Bills Have Critical Consequences for Youth.