In a word, the transgender state of the union is precarious. That is to say, transgender (trans) rights are dependent on circumstances beyond our individual or even group control.
To date, in the current 2020 state legislative sessions nationwide, there have been 30 separate anti-transgender bills introduced in the legislatures of Alabama (1), Arizona (2), Colorado (2), Florida (4), Georgia (1), Indiana (1), Kentucky (1), Missouri (7), New Hampshire (1), Oklahoma (1), Philadelphia (1), South Carolina (1), South Dakota (1), Tennessee (4), Washington (2), and West Virginia (1). The majority of these bills are directed at children (minors) under the age of 18. These bills can be categorized into the following areas:
Sports (10) – If you have male/female on your ORIGINAL birth certificate, not amended, not reissued, not changed even by court order, you are banned from playing on the opposite sex/gender sports team.
Medical (13) – Any medical transgender-related care, drugs or surgical, is banned. Some bills define offense of abuse or neglect as “if such person that assists, coerces, or provides for a child who undergoes any surgical or hormonal treatment for the purpose of gender reassignment.” This would include medical personnel, doctors, therapists, parents, family members, etc. They can be arrested and could be charged with a felony.
Indecent Exposure (3) – a transgender person can be arrested when using the opposite gender/sex only space (locker room, spa, pool, bathroom, etc.), surgeries notwithstanding. This will be based on the sex/gender as listed on the ORIGINAL birth certificate.
Adoption (2) – Faith-based adoption agencies may discriminate against transgender applicants based upon their sincerely held religious beliefs.
Pronouns (1) – A public school may not require a teacher, principal or other employees of the public school to use a pronoun that does not reflect the sex/gender shown on the student’s original birth certificate.
Inmate (1) – Inmates are denied the use of public funds for gender reassignment surgery.
As you can see by this list, the two most important items that state legislators feel the need to address in the transgender population are medical transition care for minors, (as in “no way in hell this will be permitted because God doesn’t make mistakes”), and sports team participation. The sports issue comes from the supposed dominance that trans girls, in having been identified male at birth, are naturally endowed with, notwithstanding the presence or absence of testosterone. This, of course, backfired on the legislature in Texas when a trans boy, who is undergoing gender transition with hormones (testosterone), was forced to play on the girls wrestling team as he was identified as a ‘girl’ at birth due to the visual presentation of his genitals at the time. Needless to say, he has won all his matches. Not good at all, say the legislators. What to do, what to do!
In Texas, everything is bigger, including trans issues! In a recent custody case this summer, a mother (who is a medical doctor) sought to get sole custody of her children, twin boys. One of the twins is a trans girl, who had persistently and adamantly insisted ‘he’ was a girl from an early age. The mother let her daughter socially transition. Please know this, no hormones or puberty blockers are given to a child prior to puberty. It is not medically necessary nor warranted for ANY reason. If you hear anything to the opposite they are lies, misinformation, and fear-mongering: a common tactic of the far-right and conservative Christians.
The father was against the child’s transition and fought to terminate even the social presentation of the child as a girl going so far as to force the child to wear boy clothes and even shaved the child’s head. The custody battle went to court and sole custody was awarded to the mother by a jury. The father had been milking this story for all its worth including doing a GoFundMe page to supposedly pay for legal fees. Even the Texas Lt. Governor got involved and put political pressure on the judge who overturned the jury verdict and awarded joint custody and gave co-authority over the child’s medical care. The child had been going to a gender clinic in Texas that worked with trans kids. This was merely therapy to help the child deal with her gender identity issues this did not any include any medical care involving hormones or puberty blockers. After the judge’s decision to overturn the jury’s decision the clinic would not accept the child for therapy due to the father’s refusal. Whatever happened to this dad’s “I just want my child to be healthy and happy” attitude? Did he ever want that?
This case has brought forth quite the furor in the far-right and evangelical Christian circles. Claims of child abuse, going against nature, that trans kids are really just gay, and/or they just grow out of it. So the question of ‘what to do, what to do’ on the sports question in minors suddenly had an easy answer. Eureka! Let’s kill two birds with one stone. This, of course, was aided by a powerful conservative Christian law firm, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). ADF has a decade’s long history of litigating against LGBTQ rights and providing submittal ready language for bills to Republican legislators in many states. They brilliantly said “we will just ban all trans care for minors” because “really we are just looking after the health and well-being of these kids after all. They really do not know what their gender is and it would amount to child abuse to let this happen and hey it solves the sports problem! Win-win! Woohoo!”
Nice, huh? Who cares that the attempted suicide rate in trans kids goes way, way, way down from at least 41% to near cis levels when allowed to socially transition with family support, and as teens to go on puberty blockers and then hormones at the appropriate time. Puberty blockers are as safe as any drug can be. Read the risks involved in taking aspirin or Tylenol. Do you still want your child to take those?
Teens going on puberty blockers is a risk and is one taken with the utmost seriousness and care by a medical team, the parents, and yes, the minor. Puberty blockers were first developed for children who for some reason went into what is called precocious puberty before its time, as it were. No drug is without risks. Heck, if you drink too much water too quickly it will kill you. But these drugs have been shown to be relatively safe and will put puberty into pause mode. No beard, no low voice, no body hair, no broad shoulders or big hands and feet for the trans girls, and no breasts, reduced or no periods, and get taller heights for the trans boys. Puberty blockers are seen as a much lower risk than the potential for the child to attempt suicide. In addition, it allows them TIME to figure out their gender identity issues with trained therapists and medical professionals. It allows mental maturity to take place while they live as the gender they know themselves to be. It allows them to NOT go through puberty they do not want and that will have irreversible changes to their body that no surgery or hormones can reverse later in life as an adult. It gives them hope for a better life. If they decide that gender change is not what they need they are taken off the puberty blockers and natural puberty is allowed to take its course. These kids are on the puberty blockers at most 4 to 6 years. Puberty blockers are NOT a lifetime thing.
Gender confirmation surgery is allowed once the child reaches 18. It has been known to happen earlier (at 16) but is very, very rare. Two very public gender transitions of this type were done by Nicole Maines, the actress that plays Dreamer, a trans superhero, on the TV show Supergirl; and Jazz Jennings, who wrote ‘I Am Jazz’ and had a TV show documenting her transition from a very young girl to a young woman. This protocol of trans medical care has an excellent outcome as documented in these public cases and in thousands of others. To deny this care to other trans kids would be a disaster in the making. It would encourage the suicide of countless kids, not to mention the physical and mental trauma of going through the wrong puberty.
All these bills are a “solution” looking for a problem. The trans kids themselves are not asking for these bills. Most parents of trans kids are not asking for these bills. The premier medical groups such as the AMA are not asking for these bills. If these bills become law great numbers of kids will be irreparably harmed. Please help to ensure they don’t become law. If you live in one of these states please call, write, text, tweet, and/or Facebook your representatives and make your voice heard. These bills are wrong on every level and should not be passed.
These bills with links to further information can be found at https://www.freedomforallamericans.org/2019-legislative-tracker/anti-transgender-legislation/
An excellent TED talk on teen hormonal treatment by Dr. Norman Spack, a Pediatric Endocrinologist, is here: https://youtu.be/rzbtSeVZeEE
Here is a presentation called ‘Becoming Nicole’, with Dr. Norman Spack, Nicole Maines, and her twin brother Jonas Maines: https://youtu.be/YNvTFH0uHHU