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LGBTQ Policy Spotlight: Efforts to Ban Health Care for Transgender Youth

In 2021 alone, legislatures in 22 states have introduced bills to ban best practice medical care for transgender young people. MAP's report, Efforts to Ban Health Care for Transgender Youth,  provides an overview of the legislative environment across the country, the harmful impacts these bills could have, as well a summary of best practice medical care for transgender youth.  An estimated 64,700 transgender youth (ages 13-17) live in the states considering this type of legislation in 2021 and thus are at risk of losing access to critical medical care.

Of the 22 states that introduced legislation this year to ban healthcare for transgender youth, several introduced multiple bills with a range of harmful impacts. Prior to 2020, not a single state had introduced legislation to ban this medical care. Additionally, bills in 13 states would create criminal penalties for providing healthcare to transgender youth, even though this care adheres to guidance from leading medical organizations. Denying best practice medical care and support to transgender youth can be life-threatening, which can contribute to depression, social isolation, risk of self-harm and suicidal behavior, among other negative impacts. 

  • Gender affirming health care can be lifesaving and is supported by every major medical association in the United States, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, Endocrine Society, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). 

  • Transgender young people have the best chance to thrive when they’re supported and have access to the health care they need, like any other child. Ultimately, medical decisions are best left to patients, their families, and their health care providers, in accordance with medical best practices.

Recommended citation: 
Movement Advancement Project. April 2021. LGBTQ Policy Spotlight: Efforts to Ban Health Care for Transgender Youth. www.lgbtmap.org/2021-spotlight-health-care-bans. Accessed [date of access].

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Sexual Orientation Policy Tally

The term “sexual orientation” is loosely defined as a person’s pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or more than one sex or gender. Laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation primarily protect or harm lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. That said, transgender people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual can be affected by laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation.

Gender Identity Policy Tally

“Gender identity” is a person’s deeply-felt inner sense of being male, female, or something else or in-between. “Gender expression” refers to a person’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms and speech patterns that can be described as masculine, feminine, or something else. Gender identity and expression are independent of sexual orientation, and transgender people may identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual. Laws that explicitly mention “gender identity” or “gender identity and expression” primarily protect or harm transgender people. These laws also can apply to people who are not transgender, but whose sense of gender or manner of dress does not adhere to gender stereotypes.

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