An Arizona Republican lawmaker has proposed a bill that would criminalize doctors who prescribe medical interventions, such as puberty blockers or hormones, to transgender children suffering with gender dysphoria.
State Sen. Wendy Rogers (R-Flagstaff) has proposed Senate Bill 1045, which would make doctors who prescribe gender-affirming medical treatments, including gender confirmation surgery, to those under 18 guilty of a Class 4 felony, punishable by one to three years in prison.
Advocates argue that gender confirmation surgery is rarely recommended or prescribed for youth under 18 in the United States, noting that many physicians treating transgender patients abide by guidelines established by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, which require a patient to have reached the age of majority and received at least 12 continuous months of hormone therapy before surgery can be considered an option.
Of course, the bill contains an exception for intersex children, allowing doctors and parents to perform unnecessary genital surgery on minors for the purposes of making their bodies “conform” to a binary gender identity.
Similar bills have been proposed in nearly two dozen states, with Arkansas and Tennessee passing such measures into law.
Rogers’ bill would also extend to the non-medical arena by prohibiting teachers, nurses, counselors, and administrators from withholding information from a child’s parents about their gender dysphoria or their wish to be called by another name or pronouns that do not match their assigned sex at birth.
That means school officials would be required to “out” transgender and nonbinary children to their parents, potentially severing trust between students and teachers and — in some cases — leading parents to physically or emotionally abuse their child, or attempt to enroll them in conversion therapy.
Rogers has also introduced a bill that would bar transgender and nonbinary athletes from competing on sports teams, at the elementary, secondary and collegiate levels, that do not match their assigned sex at birth.
That measure would also require students — regardless of gender identity — to submit to medical tests and examinations to determine their anatomy, hormone levels, and genetic makeup if anyone, including a potential rival team seeking to sideline a talented player, alleges that the athlete’s gender and biological sex are not in alignment.
Ryan Starzyk, a local business owner and member of Phoenix Pride, said Rogers’ trans health care bill could have negative consequences on the trans-identifying children that it purports to protect.
“It is dangerous,” Starzyk told the Arizona Mirror. “It is deadly because if [youth] don’t have the foundational information, if they have nobody they can turn and oftentimes is the only one they can turn to is the professional at school before, [the legislature] is laying the foundation for students suicides.”
Gender-affirming care, which for minors means hormone therapy, puberty blockers, and social transitioning, including the use of pronouns, wearing clothes that match one’s gender identity, and introducing oneself as one’s true gender has been proven to reduce the risk of suicide in a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
Other studies have found that access to puberty blockers in adolescence is associated with more favorable mental health outcomes, including lower rates of binge drinking and illicit drug use, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts.
Additionally, studies in both 2017 and 2018 found that socially transitioning, including being called by proper names and pronouns by others, is linked to reduced rates of depression and suicidal ideation, and better mental health outcomes overall.
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