Misinformation about health care for trans people hurts Texans

Misinformation about health care for transgender and gender-diverse people is detrimental to health outcomes for this community, and we could lose medical providers in Texas to legislative attacks on medical best practices for young people. and transgender adults. While Friday was Transgender Awareness Day, we still have an opportunity for Texans to open their eyes and learn the facts about healthcare for transgender people.

According to the Texas Medical Association, gender-affirming care is developmentally appropriate and responsive to all gender-diverse and transgender patients when they understand their gender identity or how a person views their own gender. An individual’s gender identity may or may not correlate with assumptions based on their sex at birth.

When a person’s gender identity does not match the sex at birth, it can cause a feeling of distress or unease called gender dysphoria. In particular, when exacerbated by a lack of social acceptance and support, it can lead to anxiety, depression, and suicide.

According to a 2019 study of more than 53 million electronic health records, approximately 58% of transgender patients suffered from at least one mental illness, compared to 13.6% of cisgender patients (patients whose gender identity matches their sex at birth). Additionally, data from the Journal of Interpersonal Violence indicates that 82% of transgender people have considered suicide and 40% have attempted suicide, with the risk of suicide being highest among transgender youth.

Best practice, medically necessary services that affirm a patient’s gender or address gender dysphoria can save lives. These services, all age-appropriate, include mental health counselling, non-medical social transition, hormone therapy and, in some cases, gender affirmation surgeries.

Anti-trans lobbyists have tried to discredit gender-affirming care by saying it is a false substitute for other forms of mental health care, often going so far as to imply that people are transgender at cause of mental illness. These claims are contradicted by various reports, including a two-year study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which indicate that gender affirmation, social acceptance, and access to gender-affirming hormone therapy improve mental health and other social determinants of health.

At Texas Health Action, we provide health care to Texans, including transgender Texans, through Kind Clinic clinics in Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio. We have seen firsthand an increase in fear and anxiety in our patients as politicians attack the existence of LGBTQ+ people. In Texas and across the country, politicians are suppressing access to best practices and age-appropriate medical care by spreading misinformation and proposing legislation that comes between providers and the patients they serve. .

Advocates of banning gender-affirming care have cited outdated data that does not take gender identity into account, falsely claiming that up to 80% of trans people forgo or drop out of medical transition if they do not receive gender-affirming care. And they confuse desisters with detransitioners: those who seek to regain their sex at birth after receiving gender affirmation care. However, a 2016 survey from the National Center for Transgender Equality indicates that detransition is rare. On average, 8% of respondents to a US transgender survey said they had detransitioned at some point, but most did so temporarily. Reasons cited for detransition were mostly related to lack of acceptance or barriers to obtaining care, rather than regret.

It’s not hard to see how the onslaught of anti-trans bills could discourage healthcare professionals from practicing in Texas, and we can’t afford to lose healthcare professionals. Decision makers need to listen to health care providers and make decisions based on the latest research.

Trust us when we say that gender-affirming care is vital and necessary medical care. Major medical associations, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics (not to be confused with the conservative advocacy group the American College of Pediatrics), and the American Psychiatric Association have all released statements advocating access to gender-affirming care for adults and youth.

It’s time for Texans who appreciate trans lives to show their alliance. A good alliance begins with educating those closest to you, such as your friends and family. If every Texan who values ‚Äč‚Äčtrans lives can learn the facts and correct the misinformation when they see it, we might have a chance to make Texas a place where everyone feels safe and welcome.

Health care is a human right, not a privilege. Let’s keep it that way.

Rainey Fraser is a program manager at Texas Health Action’s TeleKind. Christopher Hamilton is CEO of Texas Health Action. They wrote this for The Dallas Morning News.

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