Are lawmakers really protecting all of us?

Amaki Hassell, Staff Writer

Many lawmakers are attacking the trans community right now. Their primary focus is on trans youth. They are making it more difficult for trans youth to access gender-affirming care. Some bills proposed by these lawmakers also can prevent a social transition in trans youth and adults.
A transgender person is a person whose perceived gender does not match the sex assigned at birth. Many transgender people experience gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is a condition where a person experiences distress from their perceived gender not matching their body or social gender. Gender dysphoria is a diagnosable medical condition. There are many treatments for gender dysphoria. They include social transitioning, medical transitioning, and behavioral therapies. A social transition includes a person changing their clothes, hair, vocal inflections, stances, etc. to act more like their gender. They can change their name and pronouns to match their identity. Medical transitions include taking hormones commonly associated with the person’s gender, or hormones of the opposite sex to have a more gender-neutral appearance. A youth who hasn’t gone through puberty can go on puberty blockers to delay the puberty of the wrong gender until they go on hormones. Trans adults can have surgeries such as breast augmentation, mammoplasty, phalloplasty, vaginoplasty, valvuloplasty, etc. These changes can help create the needed appearance to alleviate gender dysphoria. These treatments, like hormones, surgeries, and therapy, are considered gender-affirming care.

Many bills have been introduced in the last couple of years, some are drag bans, others ban gender-affirming care for minors, and others prevent a social transition for youth at school and in sports. Drag bans prevent social transition by not allowing people to dress how they want in public. The ban on gender-affirming care for minors prevents a necessary medical transition. Sports and school-based bills prevent trans students from going to the right bathroom or participating in sports that match their gender. A bill introduced in Arizona would prevent students from being referred to with the correct name and pronouns if they differ from the legal documentation unless there is written parental permission.

Many lawmakers propose and sponsor these bills to “protect” the children. While these bills are aimed at protecting children, many of them come from misinformation and ignorance. In turn, they only protect a certain type of child, the Christian CIS normative white child. The bans on gender-affirming care are to ban surgeries on children (which do not happen unless in extreme cases), bans on drag to prevent children from being exposed to sexual content, and the bill proposed in Arizona is to help parents be more involved in their child’s life to give them life-saving treatment.

Current bills being introduced have a higher chance of harming children and other transgender people. This can exacerbate problems transgender people already face. Transgender people have higher suicide rates than their non-trans peers. Hate is one of the main reasons behind the high suicide rates. Being transgender doesn’t inherently cause suicidal thoughts and actions, but the stigmas and hate surrounding the identity do. More than half of transgender youth have seriously considered suicide. Compared to kids who are not transgender, trans kids are seven times more likely to attempt suicide.

The Trevor Project, a national LGBTQ+ organization that offers a lifeline, has reported that less than a third of trans youth say their homes are gender-affirming spaces. Yet over half say that their school is a gender-affirming place. The Trevor Project’s research “consistently finds that LGBTQ [youth] people report lower rates of attempting suicide when they have access to LGBTQ-affirming spaces.”

Many bills, if they went into place, would remove the safe place for many trans youths. This will most likely cause a higher suicide and hospitalization rate for trans youth. Many will lose their safe place which is vital to life. Hate causes hurt, when people, especially children, don’t have ways to cope with the pain, they reach out to dangerous methods.