Transgender medical treatment for children and teens is increasingly under attack in many states and has lately been subject to restrictions or outright bans. But it has been available in the United States for more than a decade and is endorsed by major medical associations.
Research has shown that transgender youths and adults can be prone to suicidal behavior when forced to live as the sex they were assigned at birth. And critics of legislation to restrict gender-affirming care for children say it’s an attempt by conservatives to motivate their voting base.
Opponents of youth transgender medical treatment often say that children shouldn’t make life-altering decisions they might regret and that there’s no solid proof of purported benefits, citing widely discredited research.
Here are some resources for reporting on the issue in your area.
FIND AP’s STORIES HERE
— For transgender kids, a frantic rush for treatment amid bans
— EXPLAINER: What medical treatments do transgender youth get?
— Trans kids’ treatment can start younger, new guidelines say
— How common is transgender treatment regret, detransitioning?
WHERE IS IT HAPPENING?
As of April 24 this year, at least 14 states had enacted laws restricting or banning gender-affirming care for minors: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, South Dakota and West Virginia. Federal judges have blocked enforcement of laws in Alabama and Arkansas. Bills in some other states have been introduced, are advancing, or have been passed but not yet enacted.
FOCUS ON YOUR COMMUNITY
— Is your state considering bills to limit gender-affirming care for minors, and what is their status? How did or will your legislators vote? You can find the text of your state’s measures, along with sponsors and the committees reviewing them, at your state government’s free bill-tracking site, with a list of them here: https://bit.ly/414glXt
— Need to find parents or children? PFLAG advocates for families with LGBTQ+ parents or children and has many chapters across the country: https://pflag.org. GLSEN advocates for LGBTQ+ students and also has many local/state chapters: https://www.glsen.org.
— Many states have parent advocacy groups that could point you to families on any side of the issue, with a partial list of them here: https://bit.ly/3Kg0Dlg
— Be aware that people or organizations on any side of the issue may be influenced by misinformation or offer you data that was gathered using unreliable methodology. Ask them about the sources of the information, ascertain whether they are reliable or have a political agenda, and make a judgment on what to use.
Research has shown that transgender youths and adults are prone to stress, depression and suicidal behavior when forced to live as the sex they were assigned at birth.
Gender-affirming medical treatment typically begins with an evaluation for gender dysphoria, or the distress caused when gender identity doesn’t match a person’s assigned sex. If children meet guidelines and are showing early signs of puberty, they can begin fully reversible medication that pauses it. If the gender dysphoria persists, they can begin hormone treatments that prompt sexual development, but typically not until age 16 and with parental consent.
Doctors acknowledge regret is possible, but they also say that evidence suggests it is rare and that comprehensive psychological counseling can reduce the chance of it happening. Guidelines say surgery generally should be reserved for those ages 18 and older.
— The American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, and the Endocrine Society are respected medical authorities on gender-affirming care for youths. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ 2018 policy statement: https://bit.ly/43doRp2. WPATH’s standards of care: https://www.wpath.org/publications/soc. The Endocrine Society’s clinical practice guidelines on gender dysphoria: https://bit.ly/3KFULDn.
— For local medical sourcing, here are two resources for finding providers of gender-affirming care: the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund ( https://bit.ly/3KfHaBg ) and WPATH ( https://www.wpath.org/provider/search ).
POLLING AND DATA
— The Williams Institute, a think tank at the UCLA School of Law, is one of the largest repositories of data about transgender people: https://bit.ly/43cizWv
— The Pew Research Center has data on gender identity, including a finding in 2022 that about 5% of young adults in the U.S. say their gender is different from their sex assigned at birth: https://pewrsr.ch/3zzLrKK
— A Washington Post-KFF Poll of transgender Americans showed that most trans adults say transitioning made them more satisfied with their lives (may involve a paywall): https://bit.ly/3Mn40cJ
— Tips on coverage and terminology can be found in the AP Stylebook’s Transgender Coverage Topical Guide and sections in the main AP Stylebook on gender, sex and sexual orientation and on health, science and environment reporting.
— To determine whether a poll or survey is credible, read the AP Stylebook’s guidance here: https://bit.ly/3MsbICB
Localize It is an occasional feature produced by The Associated Press for its customers’ use. Questions can be directed to Katie Oyan at email@example.com.
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