12 states with legislation on deck seeking to restrict gender-affirming care for youth

Twelve states are aiming to pass dozens of bills this year that target gender-affirming healthcare for transgender and nonbinary individuals. So far, Utah is the first of the 12 to do so. Just yesterday, the state's governor signed the bill into law that "blocks minors from receiving gender-transition health care," according to The New York Times.

Other states with similar legislation on deck are Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. 

South Dakota, which is the most recent state to introduce a bill regarding the fate of gender-affirming care in the state, just introduced its measure Jan. 17, according to Argus Leader. The bill still has yet to be debated. 

While many of the proposed bills outline bans on youth receiving this type of care, others also aim to prohibit this for adults, The Hill reports.

Access to gender-affirming care — even in states where it is not banned — is still often lacking in education and is rife with barriers to those who need it. Nearly one-fifth of transgender or nonbinary individuals are denied gender-affirming care because of how they identify. On top of that, 50 percent say that due to lack of knowledge, they themselves have had to "teach their medical providers about transgender care," a report from the National LGBTQ Taskforce found.

Although some states, like Colorado and California, are working toward building out better programming and resources for physicians to care for the transgender and nonbinary population, some researchers say more, scalable solutions are still needed to properly care for this population nationwide. 

"Improving individual new doctors' perspectives leaves aside not only the structural difficulties trans people face in accessing healthcare — like oppositional government regulations or health insurance norms, for example — but also the existing 'old guard' of doctors, which are likely the vast majority of medical providers for some time, who will not encounter these trainings by dint of having graduated," Os Keyes, a PhD candidate in the University of Washington's Department of Human-Centered Design and Engineering who researches medical technology, gender and sexuality, information science, and race and equity, told Becker's

Prior to 2020, legislation targeting gender-affirming care had not been introduced by any state, the LGBTMap nonprofit states. Since then, 25 states have introduced bills aimed at either restricting care or banning it outright. 

Despite pending state legislation that seeks to ban this care, HHS' Office of Population Affairs continues to recognize gender-affirming care as "a supportive form of healthcare." The American Medical Association also recognizes it as such.

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