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“First, do no harm” is a well-intentioned commitment that many healthcare professionals make when they enter the medical field. While the promise to prioritize doing no harm in one’s practice and decisions seems commendable, it can lead to an “absence of interventions that may cause adverse outcomes.” Focused on not causing harm through action, a healthcare provider may indirectly cause harm through inaction. As Robert H. Shmerling, MD explains, “when difficult, real-time decisions must be made, it’s hard to apply the ‘first, do no harm’ dictum because estimates of risk and benefit are so uncertain and prone to error.”

Many opponents of gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth try to use similar ideas to “first, do no harm” to bolster their arguments. Their attempt to deny life-saving healthcare to transgender and questioning youth is often cloaked in the claim that they care about the children’s well-being. For example, many opponents try to make it seem as though affirming treatment for a  transgender child is quick, easy, and permanent. However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The Importance of Gender-Affirming Healthcare

Transgender youth are much more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts than their cisgender counterparts. Thus, gender-affirming healthcare can be life-saving.

Gender-affirming healthcare isn’t always a medical transition. It also includes using someone’s correct name and pronouns, which greatly impacts their mental health. If someone, child or adult, feels more comfortable with different pronouns and another name, then that should be respected. For younger transgender individuals, medical intervention does not occur until puberty. Then, there is the possibility of puberty blockers since puberty can be extremely traumatic for transgender individuals. The effects are not permanent, but they allow transgender youth more time to consult with medical professionals about their gender identity and transition. In order to get puberty blockers, adolescents need to speak with and get approval from their parents as well as mental health professionals. It’s a process that requires a lot of thought and consideration.

So many parents of transgender individuals describe how much happier and more comfortable their child became once the child started receiving gender-affirming healthcare. Furthermore, both The Endocrine Society and Dr. Stephen Rosenthal, who is the director of the Child and Adolescent Gender Center at UCSF, contend that children who are diagnosed with gender dysphoria will grow up to be transgender adults. In fact, detransitioning is quite rare. The majority of “detransitioners” do it because medical professionals, friends, family, or others in their community don’t accept them and/or discriminate against them.

The Fight for Gender-Affirming Healthcare

Source: We Are Iowa Local 5 News/YouTube

Right now, there are 12 U.S. states who are actively trying to block transgender children from receiving vital medical care. Alabama, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah all have bills that would make it illegal for medical professionals to provide medically necessary gender-affirming healthcare to transgender kids and teens. Many of these laws are framed around “protecting children.” However, not allowing any possibility for children to receive hormone-blockers or other gender-affirming healthcare is an example of inaction that can actually cause a lot of harm. Science is on the side of supporting transgender youth in an affirming way. Sign this petition to demand that these states allow transgender youth to get the gender-affirming care that they deserve!

To continue speaking up, sign these other petitions as well:

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