In Texas, after attempts to categorize transition-related care for minors as child abuse failed, state legislators took the next step in attacking the transgender and gender-nonconforming communities. A bill introduced in the state Senate would ban transition-related care for everyone, including adults.
Efforts to block trans-affirming care in Texas, if successful, would encourage other states to go further in banning trans health care. Already in Florida, coverage for all transition-related care was denied by the state-run Medicaid program, while in Oklahoma, legislators are seeking to ban similar health care for trans people 26 and younger. A bill is being pushed in South Carolina to criminalize trans health care for anyone under 21 and to make it difficult for trans people over 21 to get care.
Citing “regret” for transitioning as the reason for these bills, supporters seek to “protect” trans people from themselves — as if they know best what trans people need. The right-wingers’ true mission is to criminalize being trans. Legislation that starts with banning trans health care could lead to bans on people wearing clothes that do not fit their gender assigned at birth.
In true reactionary fashion, bill backers hide their ill intent behind innocent-sounding words. The reality is that only 1% of people regret transition, and a higher percentage of people regret getting other surgeries like knee replacements.
Study upon study has shown that trans youth who get treatment have better mental health outcomes than youth denied care. The most recent of these studies, published this year, called “Psychosocial Functioning in Transgender Youth After 2 Years of Hormones” presents the following fact: Many transgender youth are far happier and more content after receiving hormonal treatment. (nejm.org)
Another study, “Transgender Noninclusive Healthcare and Delaying Care Because of Fear: Connections to General Health and Mental Health Among Transgender Adults,” shows how having to delay care damages the mental health of trans adults. (liebertpub.com)
But do the reactionaries, who seek to suppress trans people, care? No, they do not.
The mental health impact of these laws and the environment they create will be felt strongly by transgender and gender-nonconforming people.
Transgender people deserve care, respect and treatment that recognizes them as human beings sovereign over their own bodies. Transgender children deserve to be treated humanely and with dignity.
What can be done in response to these bills? First, the formation of a militant movement — even in states considered “safe” for trans people, though truly none are ever safe — to defend trans rights and demand that health care should be paramount. Second, the formation of buyers’ clubs — similar to those that people with chronic illnesses have founded — for hormones should be considered.
The movement must respond to every attack from every angle, presenting the now-known fact that trans health care improves trans mental health.
Even if it’s not possible to win over the hard-core bigots, the majority of working-class and oppressed people can be won to supporting trans rights.