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Transgender children and their parents struggle to cope with restrictive laws

June 14, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 19.8%. 2 min read.

A placard saying, I love my trans son, during the Trans march. Spectators displayed their support towards the transgender and non-binary people while demonstrating on the streets of Toronto in a Trans March during the Pride Month. (Photo by Anatoliy Cherkasov / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

As several US states pass laws restricting transgender kids from gender-affirming care and activities, their parents worry about the impact on their children's mental and physical health.

Arkansas in early April became the first state to ban gender-affirming care including puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, for children under 18.

And in mid-May, the Texas state legislature voted to approve a ban on gender-affirming care for kids under 18; the bill died in the House at the end of May, though Texas Gov. Greg Abbott may decide to resurrect it in June.

Dozens of states are considering bills that would limit what activities and care trans kids can legally access.

"Parents of trans kids are pretty shaken," said Liz Dyer, founder of Mama Bears, an organization dedicated to supporting, educating and empowering parents and guardians of LGBTQ kids and the LGBTQ community.

"If parents don't support their kids, the result is often depression, anxiety, and sometimes even self-harm," Dyer said.

Until you've had the experience of sitting next to your child in the ambulance," Crawford said, "because they're so miserable that they want to die, you need to not ask me about whether or not medical care for trans kids is a good idea or not.

"If folks were really to learn about the health needs of trans youth, they would move away from the panic rhetoric and the lies that people tell," Rivera said.

In her 20 years of experience working with gender-expansive youth and their families, Rivera said she has not seen any rush to medicate kids.

Some families would like to see federal legislation that can more broadly protect trans kids, even as state legislatures weigh bills that would limit activities and care for these children.

Crawford hopes specifically that The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 — which requires that kids with special needs get any services they need to achieve "free appropriate public education" — be expanded to include kids with gender dysphoria; most states have qualifying diagnoses like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety or dyslexia, or disabilities covered under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), like autism of deafness.

Many parents of trans kids question why cisgender politicians -- those whose gender identities are in line with the sex they were assigned at birth -- are so eager to make laws that affect trans people, often without consulting them.

"It is ridiculous for cisgender people to make laws against trans people when they're not even in the room," Patterson said.

Dyer said that what people who don't have trans kids need to understand is quite basic.

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