Transgender activist Willow Breshears claimed that states banning “gender-affirming care” for transgender kids will cause a surge in child deaths.
What are the details?
In a Monday report from USA Today, 18-year-old Breshears — who grew up a Baptist in rural Arkansas — said that legislators have no place in policing transgender children’s bodies.
Breshears recently testified before state lawmakers to stop the passage of a newly proposed state law that bans health care providers form providing “gender-affirming care” to youth under the age of 18.
Such “gender-affirming care” includes puberty blockers and hormone therapy.
Last week, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) vetoed a bill that would have made the state the first to ban gender-affirming medical care for youth under the age of 18 — even with parental consent.
Hutchinson at the time said that the Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act, or SAFE Act, was “a vast government overreach.”
A day later, the legislature overrode Hutchinson’s veto. The House voted 71-24 and the Senate 25-8.
The SAFE Act, according to the outlet, “also prohibits physicians from referring patients to other providers and, in what some call a particularly heinous move, includes no grandfather clause for youth already under treatment.”
“The only people who should have that say is that transgender person, their family, and their doctors,” Breshears insisted. “This is not a place for legislators to step into.”
Breshears, who began a transgender journey at the age of 13 with hormone therapy and came out as gay at 12, said that she believes she might not be alive today if she hadn’t been allowed to transition at such a young age.
“I had heard the word ‘transgender’ a couple times before that, but never really in a positive way,” said Breshears. “That’s what really helped me flourish. I was a woman, but I never really knew the words to describe that.”
Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, deputy executive director for the National Center for Transgender Equality, said that preventing transgender children from transitioning at their leisure raises the risk of serious mental health issues among that population.
“There’s only so many people taking puberty blockers in Arkansas,” he said. “But every single transgender person is feeling the effect of this attack. It’s the government, pure and simple, saying ‘You don’t belong.’ It’s such an antagonistic and heartless message to send.”
Arkansas Rep. Deborah Ferguson (D) has also spoken out against the bill, saying that at least four dozen Arkansas youth receiving hormone therapy have reportedly attempted to commit suicide.
“It is unfortunate that the makeup of our legislature has changed to the extent that we are weaponizing religion to discriminate agains this small minority,” Fergon said.
According to the outlet, “Advocates say access to gender-affirming medical care is linked with better mental health, including a lower incidence of suicidal thoughts. Bills denying such care have been condemned by major medical groups around the country, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychiatric Association.”
Christa and Jeff White, the parents of a 12-year-old transgender daughter, said that they worry for their daughter’s mental health as a transgender youth.
“The idea that this could put my daughter in danger is not OK with me,” said Christa White, a stay-at-home mom and women’s rights activist. “This is potentially devastating, not just to our child, but to all transgender children undergoing these treatments. Children will die.”
Anything else to know?
The American Civil Liberties Union has vowed to fight the Arkansas law, according to the report.
The Human Rights Campaign also blasted the law as a “cruel and shameful way for legislators to score political points by targeting transgender youth who are simply trying to navigate their adolescence.”
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Author: Sarah Taylor
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