Letter to the editor: Gender-affirming care

To the editor:

From bathroom bills to the ban of transgender troops in the U.S. military, the past several years have been a slow, steady march toward legislating transgender people out of public life. The newest and grossest attempt to censor and ultimately harm transgender people has come from South Dakota. Recently lawmakers in the state discussed a bill that would make it felony for doctors to provide gender-affirming care to transgender children. Six other states, including Missouri, have proposed similar bills.

Providing gender-affirming care for transgender youth, as some incorrectly believe, does not mean giving surgeries and hormones to children. Instead, gender-affirming care for transgender youth means providing information about what medical avenues toward transition become available to them as adults and sometimes providing medications that will briefly pause the development of secondary sexual characteristics. Effects of these medications are completely physically reversible. The effect gender-affirming care has on transgender youth, however, is permanent and life-saving.

Without access to gender-affirming care, transgender children are much more likely to suffer from dysphoria, anxiety and depression. Many attempt suicide. The denial of care is a two-headed beast, too. Not only will transgender children in these states be denied necessary education and medication, they will be alienated by friends, relatives and teachers, whom lawmakers have falsely led to believe that gender-affirming care is unsafe, unnatural and sinful.

These bills, like so many before them, will directly and indirectly lead to the deaths and mental anguish of countless transgender people across the country, many of them children.

Lev Smyth,



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