US

Bans put more than 58,000 transgender youth at risk of losing access to gender-affirming care

As of March 2022, 15 states have restricted access to gender-affirming care or are currently considering laws that would do so

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An estimated 58,200 transgender youth and young adults ages 13 and older in the U.S. are at risk of being denied gender-affirming medical care due to proposed and enacted state bans and policies, according to the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.

As of March 18, 2022, 15 states have restricted access to gender-affirming care or are currently considering laws that would do so. These bills jeopardize access to care for 54,000 transgender youth ages 13-17—nearly one-third of the estimated 150,000 transgender youth in the U.S. More than 4,000 young adults ages 18 to 20 in Alabama, North Carolina, and Oklahoma would also be at risk of losing access to gender-affirming care under proposed bills that would apply to young people over the age of 18.

The bills carry severe penalties for health care providers, and sometimes families, who provide or seek out gender-affirming care for minors. About half of the bills prohibit insurance companies from offering coverage or restrict the use of state funds for gender-affirming care.

In February 2022, the governor of Texas issued an order restricting access to gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth, classifying it as “child abuse” and directing the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate any reported instances of health care providers or parents who provide or seek out gender-affirming care for children. The order impacts as many as 13,800 transgender youth in the state.

Gender-affirming medical care includes the use of hormones to delay puberty and to promote physical development that is consistent with a child’s gender identity. It is recommended for transgender youth by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Endocrine Society.

“A growing body of research shows that gender-affirming care improves mental health and overall well-being of transgender people, including youth,” said lead author Kerith J. Conron, the Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and Research Director at the Williams Institute. “Efforts that support transgender youth in living according to their gender identity are associated with better mental health.”

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Prior research from the Williams Institute found that the risk of past-year suicide attempts was lower among transgender people who wanted and received gender-affirming medical care.

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