September 28, 2023

MADISON– A group of Wisconsin state legislators yesterday announced a plan to introduce a bill to ban best-practice medical care for transgender youth experiencing gender dysphoria – subverting the rights of trans youth and their providers and parents.

Gender-affirming care – medically necessary, evidence-based health care proven to reduce anxiety, depression, and suicide risks among trans youth – is supported across the mainstream of the medical community, including national medical bodies like the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Endocrine Society, the American Urological Association, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American College of Physicians, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinology, and the American Psychological Association.

Denying healthcare to transgender youth can be life-threatening. Research shows it contributes to depression, isolation, eating disorders, self-harm, and suicide. On the contrary, transgender youth whose families support their gender identity have a 52% decrease in suicidal thoughts, a 48% decrease in suicide attempts, and significant increases in self-esteem.

Dr. Melinda Brennan, Executive Director of the ACLU of Wisconsin, stated: 

“Let's not mince words: The elected leaders supporting this bill are playing politics with people’s lives. The bill is openly discriminatory – permitting gender-affirming care for some youth while banning it for trans youth – and lacks medical, legal, or moral grounding. 

Courts across the country are rejecting identical attacks against the rights of trans youth, their families, and their medical providers. Decisions about the health of trans children should be between them, their families, and their doctors, not politicians hellbent on outlawing necessary medical care. If enacted, this proposal will quite literally force families out of the state who are proud to call Wisconsin home. It is shameless, heartless, and dangerous. 

Denial of gender-affirming healthcare is a form of political violence, and it is in keeping with the ongoing nationwide campaign to erase and invalidate the existence of trans people, especially trans youth, who continue to face relentless attacks on their lives. We know that trans youth have far higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation and that gender-affirming care transforms and saves lives.

This proposal also represents another attempt by politicians to assert control over our health, bodies, identities, and futures. As with abortion access, the state has no business intervening in personal medical decisions. 

Gender-affirming care is a life-and-death matter, and the fact that some of our elected officials are willing to risk children's lives to fan the flames of transphobia and hate is beyond shameful. From classroom censorship to trans sports bans to prohibitions on healthcare, we are seeing a growing movement intent on making trans youth – and all trans people – suffer. Politicians are putting trans children in peril, and we must do everything we can to protect them.”