For over 25 years, I have worked as a cardiologist serving the Charlotte community. As a parent of two sons, I have learned that nobody knows our children’s health care needs better than loving parents do. That’s why it’s heartbreaking to see parents have to stand before politicians to fight for their child’s health care, as Republicans have repeatedly targeted transgender children with laws that aim to take that care away both in North Carolina and across the country.
The variety of those I’ve seen sharing their testimonials against such laws is perhaps surprising: police officers, retired Republican congressmen, pastors, small business owners … all pleading with politicians to preserve their child’s continued access to the very medical care they know has saved their child’s life.
It’s understandable that these parents are angry; these politicians are disregarding the health care recommendations put forth by trusted groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association. Parents feel their children’s health care providers are genuinely attempting to provide the best care for their children while involving the parents in all medical decision making.
Somehow the politicians claim that they are trying to “protect children.” Parents to trans children, however, want to know whose kids are being protected, because their children certainly aren’t; these laws prevent their kids from getting the care their providers recommend.
The guidelines of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and the World Professional Association of Transgender Health both say the same thing: Gender-affirming care is beneficial for transgender children.
Thus, treating gender dysphoria is considered not only ethical but also the clinically and medically recommended standard of care. Essentially, it would be considered unethical to withhold medical care from patients with gender dysphoria.
This begs the question: Why cancel the treatment? Trans children are already the most vulnerable among all children, with the highest rates of depression and suicide. Is it the intention of the politicians to worsen their already dire circumstances?
An objective fact: Gender dysphoria, feeling that you were born in a body that doesn’t align with your assigned gender, is a real thing.
A study published in the journal Pediatrics in 2022 found that 95% of trans children continue to transition into adulthood. Puberty blockers, which are given only to adolescents who have begun puberty and are experiencing severe gender dysphoria, safely allows them to pause puberty for several years giving them time to make sure they are truly trans and not going through a phase.
Preventing these adolescents from getting these blockers is actually what causes harm to them. Picture a 14-year-old trans girl who is made to endure the entire male puberty process, resulting in the development of male facial features — a beard, body hair, a deep voice, and broad shoulders. These are all things she will then need to attempt to rectify after she reaches 18.
Sadly, 40% of all trans people will have attempted suicide in their lifetime, so these decision have life-or-death implications.
It’s important to set the record straight: The claim that trans children are undergoing “genital mutilation” surgeries, made by many right-wing politicians, is simply false. These procedures are only performed on adults who meet strict criteria, including letters from two mental health professionals, before insurance will consider coverage.
It is concerning that politicians will deliberately misrepresent certain care these children receive in an attempt to stop them from receiving any gender-affirming care at all.
Don’t believe anyone who tells you trans kids are only trans because they are being “groomed” into that thought process. Trans people have been documented for hundreds of years and are well established in many cultures across the globe. The simple truth is that trans kids are trans because that’s how they were born. It’s always been that way.
Why do I care so much? Because I am a transgender woman, and I know that kindness, support and gender-affirming care has been life-saving for me as well as for many transgender children.
If any one of these politicians fighting so adamantly to take health care aways from trans children would spend a single afternoon with one, or have a meaningful conversation with their parents, they would know my words to be true.
Parents of transgender children are simply asking for the right to care for their children the best way they know how.
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