More than 200 medical professionals condemn bills trying to restrict transgender kids from getting gender reassignment treatments

A slew of states have proposed curbing transgender minors’ access to gender-affirming health care. But medical professionals are pushing back against the legislation, claiming it discriminates against trans patients and hinders physicians from doing their jobs.

In an open letter from the Campaign for Southern Equality, a nonprofit that advocates for LGBTQ rights in the South, more than 200 nurses, physicians, counselors and social workers condemned the movement to restrict transgender minors’ rights.

“To put it plainly, gender-affirming care saves lives and allows trans young people to thrive,” the letter reads.

During the 2020 legislative session, at least six states in the US have proposed barring transgender minors from accessing gender reassignment treatments, which include hormone therapy and surgery. Some bills would make it illegal for physicians to provide the treatments at all.

All of the medical professionals who signed the open letter work in Southern states where the restrictions have been proposed (though have largely failed to advance in previous legislative sessions).

None have passed yet. Only South Dakota’s bill, which would fine or arrest doctors who provide gender-affirming treatment to trans patients under 16, has passed the state House.

Not only does the legislation target trans people, the doctors wrote, but the medical professionals required to deny them care. The bills “force [doctors] to violate existing standards of medical care” for trans patients, they said.

Studies have shown that transgender youth who experience gender dysphoria — the belief that the gender they identify with doesn’t match the gender they were assigned at birth — are more likely to feel depressed or anxious, harm themselves or attempt suicide.

Denying them that care runs counter to the “growing consensus” in the medical community that the care improves their lives, the doctors wrote. Medical associations including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Medicine support trans youths’ access to health care.