The Life Saving Impacts of Gender-Affirming Healthcare

Understanding Gender, Sex, and Sexuality: Part III

Sam Chavez
Sam Chavez

Table of Contents

๐Ÿค“ Bite-Sized Knurd: Everything you know about gender-affirming healthcare is probably wrong. The right uses disinformation to weaponize a safe, collaborative, and life-saving treatment for trans kids. Understanding the facts helps us fight back.

In Case You Missed It: Getting Comfortable with the Gender Spectrum

โ€œItโ€™s for the children.โ€

โ€œWe must protect the children.โ€

We hear these cries from transphobic activists as they champion their anti-trans bills. It sounds so innocent and something we should all want, right? But the question is who are they protecting and what are they protecting them from?

Many of the bills they propose are about limiting or banning trans peopleโ€™s access to gender-affirming care and medical care in general. In this view, transphobes say they are protecting children from making life-altering decisions about their bodies.

The problem? Thatโ€™s all a lie.

The disinformation about gender-affirming care is the dominant narrative right now. Itโ€™s up to us to educate and push back against these life-threatening narratives.

Gender Affirming Care Is Exactly What It Sounds Like

Most cisgender people assume that all trans people want to medically transition, or have surgery so their reproductive organs match their gender. But transitioning can look very different depending on the person.

Only 35% of all transgender patients will have a gender-affirming surgery in their lifetimes. Gender-affirming care is a wide range of services that support people as they transition to their self-identified gender. This can include surgery, but more often includes hormone therapy, mental health services, and social services.

In children, it is a careful and collaborative process that supports the child's mental and physical health every step of the way.

"This will permanently outlaw the mutilation of minors," DeSantis said at an anit-trans bill-signing ceremony in Tampa.

First things first, transitioning as a child does NOT involve surgical solutions. It is an ongoing conversation and process that allows the child to feel safe and confident in their decisions. There are a few common steps, but every personโ€™s journey is different.

  1. Mental Healthcare: the first step is usually counseling to support the child's mental health and explore family, social, and psychological dynamics.
  2. Social transition: before puberty, transitioning is entirely social. This means changing pronouns, clothing, hairstyle, and maybe their name.
  3. Pubert Blockers: as a child nears puberty, they may decide to take puberty blockers which safely delay puberty. Puberty blockers are fully reversible and are also used for other kinds of medical treatments to delay puberty. This gives kids the freedom to more permanently transition when they are older. Puberty can also be very traumatic for trans kids as their bodies change into a gender that is not theirs.
  4. Hormone Therapy: once trans kids age into their late teens, some choose to take a prescription to increase the testosterone or estrogen levels in their bodies. These medications are completely safe. Over time, hormone therapy will alter a personโ€™s vocal cords, sex drive, breast development, muscle mass, hair growth, and more.

When trans kids turn 18, they are able to get gender-affirming surgery if they want to. Before then, it is a collaborative process with the child, healthcare providers, and their parents.

What About Those That Regret Transitioning?

Itโ€™s extremely rare! If it does happen in kids, the majority of the gender-affirming care they receive can be reversible. Teens can choose to stop taking hormone blockers and begin to go through puberty as normal.

The Ron Desantisโ€™ of the world love to cry wolf about life-altering decisions, but in reality, thereโ€™s plenty more regret thatโ€™s not about transitioning.

  • Only 1% of trans people regret transitioning
  • 20% of people are unhappy with their knee replacements
  • 65% of people regret getting breast implants
  • 83% of people whoโ€™ve had plastic surgery wonโ€™t do it again
  • 29% of U.S. adults regret having children

What?! ๐Ÿคฏ Thatโ€™s not what transphobes told us. The number of bad faith stories about the 1% of people who regret their transition is ridiculous. Plus 82% of people who did detransition did so because of external pressures. Itโ€™s almost like trans kids know who they are!

Speaking with trans kids, itโ€™s very clear that they know who they are. Itโ€™s actually the adults that donโ€™t want to acknowledge who they are.

Who Are They Protecting?

At the end of the day, the GOPโ€™s obsession with anti-trans bills is not about protecting trans kids, let alone other kids. No, itโ€™s about protecting the status quo.

"We're not saying you can't learn about these topics at all, we're saying parents need to be in the driver's seat," Florida state Sen. Clay Yarborough said about the anti-trans bills in Florida.

I found this quote to be especially illuminating. Much of the GOPโ€™s extremism wrapped in parental rights without any consideration for the children and their wellbeing.

Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among queer youth according to The Trevor Project. Almost half of all LGBTQ+ youth seriously consider attempting suicide. These numbers have most certainly risen in the wake of anti-trans extremism.

But you know what does save lives? Gender-affirming care!

The Trevor Projectโ€™s study confirmed that receiving this care decreased the odds of depression and suicide attempts by 40%. And parent support is really important for trans kids to get care. 80% of those that received care had at least one parent who was supportive of their gender identity.

So for parents who want to โ€œprotect the kids.โ€ What kids really need is your love and support. You donโ€™t have to โ€œget it,โ€ you just have to be supportive and listen to what your kids are telling you. They know themselves more than anyone else does.

Want to learn more about gender-affirming healthcare? Check out these great resources:

Next Up in Understanding Gender, Sex, and Sexuality

What ๐Ÿณ๏ธโ€๐ŸŒˆ Pride Means to Me
Understanding Gender, Sex, and Sexuality: Part IV
๐ŸŒฑ๐Ÿณ๏ธโ€๐ŸŒˆ Queering Life๐Ÿ—ผ๐Ÿ—ž: Newsletter๐ŸŒฑ๐Ÿ‘‘ Defeating White Supremacy๐ŸŒฑ๐Ÿคนโ€โ™€๏ธ Social & Cultural

Sam Chavez

Sam is a writer, strategist, and curious human. She founded the roots of change agency in 2020. Sam is a queer, white, LatinX activist whoโ€™s passionate about a livable planet & equitable societies.


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