Since January, there have been 80 bills that affect the rights of transgender people, mainly focusing on two things: youth sports and medical care.
Sports: These bills aim to prevent trangender athletes from playing on sports teams as the gender they identify with. These bills are about ensuring fair competition and attempt to answer the question: Should trangender women be able to play with cisgender women? These bills are based on stereotypes and contest gender athlete privacy as testing is stigmatizing and invasive. Transgender youth only make up 2% of the population, which also makes this so-called “problem” of trans women in sports almost non existent with many of the people in support of these bills having never experienced transphobia.
Medical Care: 21 states introduced bills focused on banning medical treatment for youth who experience gender dysphoria. The bill plans to ban puberty blockers, meant to suppress puberty, which gives kids more time to decide what they want. Additionally, the bill will make it illegal for children under 18 to have gender-reassignment surgery. The people in support of these bills believe that these drugs are experimental and so the ratification of these laws will supposedly help transgender youth. The people in support of these bills include those from the Family Research Council, a conservative religious group, and a large number of politicians; there were also a few child psychologists, an anesthesiologist, and an internist. Many of them never even have treated gender dysphoria or come into contact with transgender youth.
On the flip side, many doctors have come forward to debunk these transphobic claims. There is no sign that using puberty blockers for an extensive period of time is unsafe. Furthermore, just to get the drug prescribed takes six month of talks with parents and doctors, an extremely stigmatized process. One expert said, “We’ve been using puberty blockers for 50 years. And there’s copious, copious numbers of publications showing that the use of puberty blockers in very young children for lengths of time of up to and over 10 years is safe.”
Furthermore, studies have shown that transgender youth have a disproportionately high rate of attempted suicide, anywhere between 30 and 50 percent. Additionally, transgender youth who are supported by their families in their transition experience notably lower rates of depression. And transgender people who were treated with puberty suppressants during adolescence had lowered lifetime risks of suicide as adults. Trans advocates and doctors, like the ones at the Arkansas trial, are saying this kind of medical treatment is lifesaving and necessary.
This has caused doctors to feel frustrated as passing these bills feels like an obvious wrong choice. One doctor even said, “I’m doing everything I can to maintain my sanity here. I’ve had multiple children— do you know how many phone calls I’ve had to field in the last week of children calling me, saying, Dr. Hutchison, if this happens, I’m going to kill myself. Multiple.”
These medical treatments seem to do nothing but help, leaving many to wonder why these bills are being passed.
Many anti-transgender bills have been passed since January; with Joe Biden, who is a supporter of transgender rights, taking office, it will be interesting to see how these bills continue to develop.