Transgender minors aged 13 to 17 are grappling with the harsh consequences of anti-trans legislation in various US states, according to a recent study by the Williams Institute at UCLA. Of the estimated 300,000 transgender young people in the United States, a staggering one-third find themselves residing in states where their rights are significantly restricted.
Challenges and Restrictions: A Multifaceted Landscape
The research, which identified over 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills in 2023, revealed that more than half of these bills directly targeted transgender youth. These legislative attempts encompass a broad spectrum of restrictions, including bans on access to gender-affirming healthcare, limitations on the use of public facilities in line with gender identity, and constraints on participation in school sports.
Gender-Affirming Healthcare: A Vital Issue
Approximately 105,200 transgender minors aged 13-17 are living in states that have banned access to gender-affirming healthcare in 2023. These healthcare services, encompassing puberty blockers, hormone replacement therapy, and surgery in rare cases, have proven essential in preventing emotional distress and self-harm among young trans individuals. A recent study even demonstrated a 55% reduction in suicidality among those with access to such care. All major medical associations in the US advocate for gender-affirming healthcare for trans minors.
Bathroom Bans: A Source of Violence and Discrimination
Restrictions on restroom use based on gender identity affect 32,700 transgender minors, with 23,600 of them living in states that passed bathroom ban laws in 2023. Regrettably, bathroom bans have often led to violence against trans individuals, making an already marginalized community more vulnerable. Numerous incidents of harassment and attacks have occurred due to these discriminatory policies.
School Sports Restrictions: A Contentious Issue
Access to school sports for transgender students remains a contentious subject in the US. An estimated 101,500 transgender minors are residing in states that restrict their participation in school sports. While 14,200 trans minors live in states that have officially passed restrictive laws, 11,000 are in states where enforcement has been halted due to court orders.
A Glimmer of Hope: Gender-Affirming Care “Shield Laws”
Amidst these challenges, there is some positive news. The study identified 146,700 trans minors living in states with “gender-affirming care shield laws” that protect access to healthcare for minors seeking gender-affirming care. These laws also shield doctors and parents who provide such care. Encouragingly, 88,000 transgender youth reside in states that passed these protective laws in 2023.
As we look ahead to 2024, advocates hope to see continued progress in securing equal rights and protections for transgender minors across the United States.