April 8, 2021

Arkansas Bans Transgender Treatment for Children

“Arkansas on Tuesday became the first U.S. state to ban certain types of treatment to transgender youth, overriding a veto by Governor Asa Hutchinson… The law threatens any healthcare professional who provides puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones or gender-affirming surgery to minors with losing their medical license and opens them up to lawsuits from patients who later regret their procedures.” Reuters

On this issue, the two sides are making competing scientific claims based on different studies; here are the links to several of the studies being cited:

See past issues

From the Left

The left opposes the law, arguing that the most common medical treatment is reversible and provides immense mental health benefits.

“This skirmish is one in which conservatives have gone to battle against research backed by the Endocrine Society and the American Academy of Pediatrics — not to mention the lived experience of doctors around the country — showing that early medical interventions, including the prescription of puberty blockers for younger trans people, are both beneficial and safe

“The procedures banned by this bill are neither radical nor experimental. Puberty blockers keep trans kids from suffering the permanent damage of adolescence in the wrong gender. They have been shown to lower the risk of suicidal thoughts, and it buys them time, should any be needed, to become more certain of the path they’re on. The effects of these medicines are reversible if treatment is suspended…

“In 2014, research published in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics found, in a longitudinal study of 55 trans people who had received puberty suppression treatments during adolescence, that treatment radically improved patients’ lives… Moreover, a different study published in the same journal last year found that kids who are treated when they’re younger face significantly lower risk of self-harm, depression and attempted suicide. In other words, it is not the care, but its absence, that puts these kids at risk.”
Jennifer Finney Boylan, New York Times

“These bills will effectively force trans teens through a puberty that will cause them immense emotional and psychological harm. Some of these teens have been living as themselves for much of their childhood, without most people in their lives even knowing they are trans. But without access to puberty blockers and hormone treatments, trans girls will develop facial hair and deep voices; trans boys will grow breasts…

“A 2018 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that trans boys showed a 50.8 percent rate of attempted suicide (compared to 9.8 percent for cis boys), while trans girls showed a 29.9 percent rate (compared to 17.6 percent for cis girls). Nonbinary teens reported a 41.8 percent rate and gender-questioning teens a 27.9 percent rate. But when trans children receive gender-affirming health care and the support of family and peers, their risk of death by suicide declines substantially.”
Emily VanDerWerff, Vox

The protests of people who are actually transgender and those who care for them — that gender transitioning is not experimental, that people undergo intensive therapy and screening before transitioning is considered, that hormone therapy is introduced carefully in stages that reflect patients’ age and development, that those who undergo the transition process emerge relieved to feel more themselves — did not deter majorities in the Arkansas legislature from picking on a small, often misunderstood portion of the population…

“The bill’s mean, petty spirit is revealed in the fact that gender transition surgery is not performed on Arkansas youths, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Fewer than 200 are even on hormone therapy. ”
Editorial Board, Washington Post

From the Right

The right supports the law, arguing that few long-term studies have been done on these life-altering medical treatments.

The right supports the law, arguing that few long-term studies have been done on these life-altering medical treatments.

“If the law had applied to adults I would be 100% onboard with the governor’s reasons for vetoing it. No matter what your views on the entire transgender issue may be, adults are entitled to make decisions as to what they do with their own bodies, provided they are willing to take responsibility for the consequences if they wind up regretting those decisions later…

“But when it comes to the safety of children, there is more than ample precedent to say that such state protections are called for. The state bears a responsibility to ensure the proper care for those who are too young to provide informed consent

“The castration of a young boy or the removal of the breasts of a young girl going through puberty can never be fully reversed. Puberty-blocking drugs such as Lupron have never been approved by the FDA for use in cases of gender dysphoria. The drug was developed to treat cases of precocious puberty in children and in some cases for adults suffering from breast cancer.”
Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

“We are in the early stages of understanding gender dysphoria and trans-sexualism. Until very recently, these matters were hardly studied at all. Yet there has been a stampede toward an arguably risky approach to treating children that involves drastic interference with both physical and psychological development…

“Perhaps in time we will learn that gender-affirming treatments are the best response to children who present with symptoms of gender dysphoria. But those who object that these treatments have not been proven to be safe and effective deserve a hearing. We are delaying the distribution of the COVID vaccines to children because it hasn’t yet been fully tested on those under 16. Yet the use of puberty blocking drugs has been widely adopted despite the lack of clinical trials

“It’s not trans-phobic to worry that the current stress on transsexualism may be confusing to children. There is tremendous variability in males and females. An effeminate male in the current climate might be encouraged to believe he’s transsexual, rather than just what he is. Ditto for girls who hate frilly dresses and dolls. There are untypical males and females who are just part of the spectrum.”
Mona Charen, The Bulwark

“We know that most children who are struggling to accept their biological sex will eventually come to reconcile with it—if they aren’t pushed to transition. Still, leading medical organizations call for struggling children to have the option to pursue ‘treatment’ that includes inducing potential sterility and, down the road, amputating healthy body parts…

“Another common objection to laws like Arkansas’ new SAFE Act is: ‘But if transgender-identifying teens aren’t given access to sex-change interventions, they are at far higher risk of committing suicide.’ This is a dire statement that would send chills down the spine of any loving parent. But what is the truth? The truth is that transition interventions do not bring about the promised mental health improvement for transgender-identifying individuals, and in many cases, suicide rates are higher among those who undergo sex-reassignment surgeries.”
Autumn Leva, Daily Signal

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