March 23, 2023

OVERREACH: What’s up with all this American transphobia?

DANGEROUS OVERREACH: 21 states have laws, rules banning gender-affirming surgeries

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“This state has a legitimate, substantial, and compelling interest in encouraging minors to appreciate their sex…” reads a Tennessee bill very likely to pass soon, which would outlaw gender-affirming surgery for minors.

“A physician or other healthcare professional found to have knowingly referred for or provided gender transition procedures to an individual under twenty-six (26) years of age shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a felony,” says proposed legislation in Oklahoma.

In Utah, a bill banning gender-affirming surgery went into effect this past weekend.

The Texas legislature currently has before it 35 anti-LGBTQ+ proposals, including one that classifies gender affirming care to anyone under 18 as a form of child abuse.

Under Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida has issued new rules that will cause any doctor who prescribes puberty blockers or hormone therapy – or who performs gender affirming surgery on a minor – to lose their license.

The regulations will take effect after a public comment period, likely around the start of spring.

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In all, 21 states have either issued new rules or have passed or proposed laws to ban gender affirming surgeries.

In at least three states – Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Virginia – these bills would also make it illegal to perform surgeries on young adults of full capacity.

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These bills contradict the advice of both the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Those organizations recognize that this is a mental health and a suicide issue.

Suicide rates among transgender youth are already extraordinarily high, with one study noting that 82% of transgender youth have considered suicide and another 40% attempted it.

It’s also important to recognize the difference between sex, gender, and sexuality.

Many Republican lawmakers adhere to the idea that your gender is whatever your biological sex was at birth.

Yet gender is more fluid than that, and is about how a person identifies.

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Sexuality refers to sexual attraction, and is not necessarily bipolar either, but may exist on a spectrum.

The inability of certain lawmakers to recognize these differences creates a serious danger.

While gender affirming surgery and the decision to use puberty blockers and other means to transition is no easy decision for any family, it’s one that must be made weighing a number of factors and not simply based on prejudicial beliefs.

Classifying gender affirming surgery as “abuse” not only reduces the complexity of the issue, but ignores the potential consequences of inaction.

Follow Ross on Twitter by clicking on @RossRosenfeld. He needs you.

Ross Rosenfeld

is a news analysis and opinion writer whose work has also appeared in the New York Daily News and Newsweek. He lives in New York.

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