The Assault on Gender-Affirming Care

Many states have, or are in the process of, banning gender-affirming care for transgendered kids, even if the parents support and have approved such care for their child. According to the New York Times (Gift Article):

Amid all this legislation lurks the sharpest threat to families like the Neisses: aggressive efforts to outlaw what’s known as gender-affirming care for minors — a range of interventions from talk therapy and social transition, such as adopting a name, clothing style or pronoun without any medical treatment, to puberty blockers and, for older kids, hormones. Conservative lawmakers tend to dabble in lurid insinuations about mastectomies and genital surgery, but, according to doctors, surgery administered to minors is rare […]

I could understand all the calls for banning gender-affirming care for kids IF the care was being provided *without* the parents knowledge or against their wishes. That would just be common sense. If, however, the parents are aware of what is happening and have given their permission for their child to receive such care, then the government should just butt out. This, like abortion, is another situation that should be decided by the patient, their parents (if the patient is a minor) and their doctor(s).

Now that they’ve gained a foothold in anti-transgender regulation regarding children, extreme right-wing politicians and legislatures are escalating their attacks. New legislation is being proposed in many states that would prohibit gender-affirming care for adults up to the age of 26. So far.

Across the country, Republican-led efforts include seeking to ban or restrict gender-affirming care for people into adulthood or placing barriers for adults trying to access such care. […]

In Oklahoma, a proposed bill would make it a felony for anyone under the age of 26 to access gender-affirming care in the state. […]

In Virginia, a proposed bill would ban gender-affirming surgeries for people under the age of 21. The legislation was amended to remove bans on hormone therapies.

It also states that in order for someone over the age of 21 “to receive gender transition procedures, he must first obtain a referral from his primary care physician and a referral from a licensed psychiatrist.”

In Florida:

DeSantis asked to see the records of any student who has experienced gender dysphoria in the past five years. In addition, he wants their ages and the dates they received gender-affirming care. The deadline to submit those records was February 10.

Some politicians claim that these laws that aim to determine whether—and when – someone can receive gender-affirming care, are needed because people may regret having undergone such care later in life, while ignoring that such incidents are rare.

“I think making a decision to permanently alter your body to remove a healthy body part is much more serious than buying a beer,” said Peake, a Republican.

He later continued, “There have been a lot of people who have come out who have had these surgeries and have indicated that they regret it.”

Research shows that rates of regret for gender-affirming procedures are extremely low — estimates are around 1%. Rates of regret for knee and hip replacement surgeries are much higher than gender affirmation surgery, according to studies.

Some states even want to make it possible to sue doctors who provide gender-affirming care if, down the road, a patient decides they regret having received it.

Even if you don’t think people should have their gender altered or are otherwise opposed to LGBTQ+ rights, these bills and policies should concern you. In their “noble crusade” against “regret” what else might they decide to outlaw? For example, many people get, and then regret, various forms of plastic surgery or ill-advised tattoos. Or they make major purchases such as buying an expensive car or a new home. Should I be able to sue my doctor, tattooist, salesman, or realtor if I later realize I made a mistake?

Conservatives used to believe in personal responsibility. That’s been their mantra in their opposition to programs like food stamps and welfare, saying people must deal with the consequences of their own choices – even if they require such aid for reasons truly outside their own control. Yet here, rather than expecting people to deal with any repercussions from their decision (which, like the need for federal aid, is most often driven by factors that go beyond choices) they say they wish to “protect” people from potential regret.

Of course, that’s not really what they’re doing. In the short term, they want to legislate transgendered people out of existence. In Kansas, there’s a proposed “Women’s Bill of Rights” would set definitions for “men” and “women”:

The proposed Women’s Bill of Rights defines woman in state statute as only a person identified as female at birth and man as only a person identified as male at birth. It bars any state funded agency from identifying anyone in data as something other than their sex assigned at birth and mandates that any spaces designated for just men or women in statute are only available to those assigned to that sex at birth.

The legislation is a near exact model of a policy pushed at the federal level by the right-wing Independent Women’s Voice.

I strongly recommend reading the full Women’s Bill of Rights at the link.

While someone could still have gender-affirming surgery under this law, it would prevent them from being able to identify themselves as anything other than their gender at birth in any official or meaningful way.

Overall, this is just another way White Supremacists and Christian Nationalists want to dominate anyone who might pose a risk to their fascistic agenda. The more people are forced to conform to their ideals, the simpler it is to control them. And as history shows, by starting their plan by attacking those who are already the most marginalized, the easier it becomes to go after those who might believe they are safe.

Currently, our system is so corrupted that extremist proposals such as these have gained traction and are being made into law. Many of them should be seen as violating various civil rights and the Constitution, but after the torrent of judges Trump got confirmed to lifetime tenures during his 4 years in office, most significantly, the supermajority he was able to engineer for the Supreme Court, we can’t count on the courts to help slow the creeping fascism.

Our country needs President Biden to do his own court-packing. He should work to get as many judges confirmed as he can so that the courts are more balanced. He should increase the size of the Supreme Court and get judges appointed, ending the extreme supermajority. And we need to make sure as many progressive candidates as possible win their elections. At least then we might have a fighting chance to prevent the fascist takeover of our country.


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