A new report published last Monday by the faculty of Yale Law School, Yale School of Medicine’s Child Study Center, and Yale’s Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics push back on claims that gender-affirming care is “child abuse.”
The study directly refutes claims made by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Alabama’s new anti-trans legislation, which argues providing gender-affirming care is “child abuse.”
Arguments made in both Paxton’s opinion and the Alabama law are extensively examined in the report. It goes point by point, providing professional opinions on the inaccuracies, misconceptions, and intentional misrepresentations put forth by opponents of gender-affirming care — which are already being echoed by lawmakers in other states seeking to bar youth from accessing surgery, hormones, or puberty blockers.
The report goes as far as to say that it “is difficult to believe that [Paxton’s] opinion represents a good-faith effort to draw legal conclusions based on the best scientific evidence,” and explains that the opinion was “motivated by bias” rather than public safety.
Paxton’s legal opinion, which used the same arguments as the Alabama law, was the basis for Texas governor Greg Abbott’s directive in February. This directive asks licensed professionals who work with children to investigate instances of gender-affirming care, and potentially charge families and medical professionals with child abuse for aiding them.
This directive was also the source of a Texas Supreme Court battle, with the court ultimately siding with families and issuing an injunction to halt the investigations.
Alabama’s law banning gender-affirming care falsely claims that the implementation of gender-affirming care is forcing sterilization onto children, according to the report. The report responds to that by explaining that the law and Paxton’s opinion greatly exaggerate the risks of gender-affirming care for children and their future physical development.
The study points out multiple flaws in arguments from the AG opinion and Alabama law, including using out-of-date evidence and discredited theories. The most prevalent example used in the AG opinion was the Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine (“SEGM”). The report explains that despite its name, it “is not a recognized scientific organization, and in Appendix A we document the bias that infuses its medical claims.”
One of the first points refuted by the report is that gender-affirming care is sterilizing children. This is not true, according to the study, which explains that people who wish to receive care must be the “age of majority” before any surgeries on genitals can be performed. The age of majority varies by state but lies between 16 and 18, generally towards the upper end of that range.
The second argument the law makes is that hormones, or puberty blockers, are used too freely and prescribed too early in a child’s life. The report explains that this is occurring despite the medical consensus already surrounding hormones. The consensus states that those who want to receive hormones must be at least undergoing puberty to use them. It continues by advocating these methods “only for those with puberty-induced worsening gender dysphoria” while under the supervision of medical professionals.
The Yale report also explains how this law could negatively impact the mental health of transgender children. Children who suffer from gender dysphoria and cannot access gender-affirming care could have “serious negative medical consequences” to their mental health. The researchers also explain how gender-affirming care can significantly minimize a range of mental health issues for these children, “including reducing rates of suicide.”
The study, written by three pediatric doctors, three phycologists, and one law professor, went as far as to say that the gender-affirming care Texas and Alabama are trying to remove has “measurable and significant benefits.” Additionally, extensive and impartial studies were done to prove this, leading to the conclusion that “none of the studies has found a worsening of these mental health measures among recipients of gender-affirming care.”
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