Republican governors in Idaho, Iowa and Georgia each signed bills targeting youth access to transgender care, like hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery.
The governors argue that children are too young to be making medical decisions related to gender-affirming care.
“We need to just pause; we need to understand what these emerging therapies actually may potentially do to our kids,” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) said this week.
Advocates have pushed back, pointing to the extensive level of counseling that is recommended as best medical practice for trans youth seeking treatment for gender dysphoria.
They also argue that gender-affirming care for trans youth results in better mental health outcomes and surgeries often don’t occur until they reach adulthood.
Some medical organizations have spoken out against these bans, with the American Medical Association urging U.S. governors to “stop interfering in the medical care of transgender minors” and saying these decisions should be left to patients and their physicians.
Advocates have also argued that these bans lack nuance. The ban in Georgia has brought renewed scrutiny on the state’s continued allowance of intersex surgeries on children.
Intersex refers to people who are born with traits that do not fit completely within the medical definitions of male and female. As The 19th News reported, more than two-thirds of the bills banning gender-affirming care include exemptions for intersex surgery.
These surgeries allow surgeons to assign binary genders to individuals. The United Nations has condemned these operations as doing more harm than good, especially for children too young to consent.
Legal pushback has already begun, with four Florida families this week filing a federal lawsuit against the state’s medical board’s rules that prevent minors from acquiring gender-affirming care. The families are arguing the effective ban is unconstitutional and discriminatory on the basis of sex and transgender status.