It is a dark day in the sunshine state as transgender citizens face their healthcare rights being taken away. The Florida medical board voted yes to a draft rule on Friday that will ban some gender-affirming care. This means that anyone that has been using these services such as taking hormones or is transgender may be forced to de-transition because they will be unable to receive the medical care they require and have been utilizing. The implications of this will have dire consequences. Voting will take place on November 4th, and the final decision will be made. The outcome is looking bleak.
Transgender Youth’s Risk to Mental Health and Suicide Ideation
It has been statistically proven that transgender youth are at a high risk of suicide, and restricting the care they need will only increase the risk of harming themselves. The Trevor Project found that LGBTQ+ youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers. An astounding 1.8 million LGTBQ+ youth ages 13-24 seriously consider suicide each year, while one attempts suicide every 35 seconds in the United States. One study found that 82% of transgender youth have thought about suicide, with 40% attempting suicide. The reason why transgender youth may consider or try suicide is unique to them. However, it is essential to point out that the reasons are not necessarily because of who they are but rather society’s response to them. Bullying, hate crimes, and safety concerns are all prevalent in the lives of transgender youth, which would make a living hard to cope with for anyone.
Healthcare and the Right to Privacy
Once again, the State is impeding the constitutional right to privacy. We have seen this recently in Roe V Wade, where Roe was overturned. Healthcare should remain confidential between patient and doctor, and the State should not have a hand in those decisions. Abortion is healthcare, and gender-affirming care is definitely necessary healthcare.
The Main Debate
We know that the brain does not ultimately develop until the age of twenty-five. This fact has brought up a lot of conversations about the United States’ age to enlist, drink, consent to sex, and now gender-affirming care. Many that are supporting eliminating gender-affirming care argue that youth are not developed enough to make these important decisions about their health and bodies. When it comes to knowing who you are and want to be, the State should have no hand in that decision. Just because someone isn’t fully developed does not equal the inability to know what gender one identifies as. There are instances when those who have chosen to transition decide to de-transition. Humans as fallible, and people grow and change. Sometimes people make mistakes, and they decide to do so. Plus, the care we are talking about consists of hormone therapy and puberty-blocking agents. Not all of these things are “irreversible.”
Along with gender-affirming care comes the support to explore if someone is making the right decision. Therapy and consulting with a doctor are all requirements. These are in place to help someone question their gender identity and support them in making the best decision for them. Sometimes one can identify one way, and that can change. That does not necessarily mean the way they used to identify was wrong, just different.
The Florida Department of Health created a PDF on the “Treatment of Gender Dysphoria for Children and Adolescents” with a fact sheet. This is some of the most blatant misinformation I have ever seen. These ” statistics” on an official website are absolutely barbaric. This PDF claims that “80% of those seeking clinical care will lose their desire to identify with the non-birth sex.”
First, if you want to read the article they are linking, at minimum, you have to pay $60 for 48-hour access, which is not something that is accessible to everyone. I spent the $60 to be able to read the article where I found that the report states that out of 317 youth that 270 of them did lose their desire to identify with the non-birth sex. It does say that this sample has a high percentage of being lesbian, gay, or bisexual, but it offers no statistics.
There are 331.9 million people currently living in the United States and a sample of 317 people seems too small to draw any major conclusions. The study does not necessarily represent that 80% of ALL those identifying with the non-birth sex changed their minds. It means that 85% of 317 people decided to align with their birth sex. The percentage of transgender youth in the United States is small so we would not expect 317 of those questioning their birth gender to end up deciding they are transgender. Statistically it does not align. This study also states that children who present with gender identity issues can be very variable and that any predicted outcomes can be unclear. The data we have on children identifying with their non-birth sex is inconclusive and should not be used to make a point. Spreading misinformation is just as damaging as controlling gender-affirming healthcare and creates an unsafe society for transgender youth.
It should also be noted that this study views Gender Dysphoria as a mental illness. The DSM-5 does include gender dysphoria as a diagnosis, but the approaches seem vastly different. People experience gender dysphoria when they cannot align themselves with the sex they identify as. It is not something that is inherently bad or needs to be “fixed.” The National Health Society states, “Gender dysphoria is not a mental illness, but some people may develop mental health problems because of gender dysphoria.”
Who does DeSantis actually think they are protecting? Because none of the arguments sound like they are in our youth’s best interest. Many speculate that we will see people fleeing Florida because of the lack of safety and health care for transgender youth. Forcing anyone to stop hormone therapy is unconstitutional, inappropriate, and wrong. It leaves families and individuals to fear the future and question, “what next?”. Many are already sharing how they no longer feel safe in Florida, and some are even planning to move to a different state. Not everyone can uproot and leave, making the situation scarier. We need to support our transgender youth and be a desperate safety net for them. Transgender youth deserve and need gender-affirming healthcare, which should not be up for debate.