The science is clear: Access to transgender health care, including puberty blockers, leads to better outcomes for trans children, who are at higher risk for mental illness and suicide when forced to continue living as the gender assigned to them at birth.
But in an atmosphere of widespread misinformation about the experiences of transgender children, Georgia State Rep. Ginny Ehrhart, a Republican, plans to introduce a bill that would make it a felony for medical professionals to provide that care.
Ehrhart has been pushing this unscientific agenda since at least October, when she first announced her intention to introduce legislation with a horrifically misleading title: the Vulnerable Child Protection Act. In addition to prohibiting sterilization, mastectomy, and genital surgery, the legislation would deny minors puberty blockers and cross-sex hormone therapy (testosterone for children assigned female at birth, or estrogen for those assigned male).
Ehrhart believes that this legislation is urgently needed to protect children from being forced to become trans… as if that’s a thing that happens.
This form of child abuse is becoming a serious problem in Georgia and is evolving into a national crisis. We are talking about children who have not reached the legal age of consent yet are being subjected to life-altering, irreversible surgeries and drug treatments that render them sterile and permanently disfigured. The psychological damage this does to innocent children must come to an end… This is about children who are being abused by adults. The sterilization and castration of children has no place in a civilized society.
It’s worth noting that Ehrhart is unable (or unwilling) to identify exactly who is forcibly transitioning children and why. It is a vague and nebulous threat that shares its DNA with the outdated belief that gay men “recruit” straight children.
It is also completely based on ill-informed claims about the nature of trans health care for children, which does not involve surgical interventions. Prepubescent children’s transitions happen mostly socially, with children trying new names, haircuts, and styles of dress. Surgery isn’t even considered prior to the person reaching the legal age.
Instead, puberty blockers — which are fully reversible and are safely used in cisgender children when puberty comes too soon — prevent the development of secondary-sex characteristics incongruent with the patient’s gender identity (a move that can actually prevent far more invasive surgical interventions, like mastectomies, from becoming necessary in the future). Later in adolescence, transgender youth may decide to take synthetic hormones to bring their bodies more closely in line with their gender identity — just as cisgender people might use hormone-based medications to correct hormone deficiencies.
Ehrhart’s ignorant legislation, like the myths underpinning it, is far from new. This form of anti-trans legislation is common enough that the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), the major international medical organization promoting evidence-based transgender health care, has drafted a response to the accusation that trans health care for children is abusive:
Withdrawing care for all transgender youth or adults or threatening to criminalize conscientious healthcare providers who work with transgender patients or clients using evidence-based care is a clear abuse of administrative and legislative power. Legislation that opposes needed treatment is of grave concern as it sustains harmful misconceptions about transgender youth and adults, as well as gender transition processes in general.
This isn’t about the facts, and it’s not about limiting harm to children. At best, it’s about prejudice being used as a basis for legislation, with no particular concern for the people most impacted by it. At worst, it’s about lashing out at what the legislators don’t understand: The cruelty is the point.
(Screenshot via YouTube)