The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a prominent organization of child doctors in the United States, has reaffirmed its support for transgender healthcare services for minors under 18. Despite concerns surrounding potential long-term risks, the AAP stands by its 2018 guidance that encourages access to counseling, hormone therapy, puberty blockers, and, in some cases, surgery.
Ongoing Evaluation of Treatments
In light of the significant increase in gender dysphoria diagnoses among minors, the AAP has initiated a systematic review to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of these treatments. While other countries like the UK and Sweden have also commissioned similar reviews, they have temporarily suspended the use of puberty blockers, hormone drugs, and surgery until the conclusions of these reviews are reached. In contrast, the AAP has decided to continue recommending these pharmaceutical interventions.
A Contentious Cultural Issue
The topic of transgender care for minors has become a contentious cultural issue, with 19 US states implementing prohibitions or severe restrictions on under-18s accessing such treatments.
Comprehensive Support for Gender-Affirming Care
With 16 members representing a collective of 67,000 pediatricians, the AAP remains confident in the evidence supporting the clinical benefits of gender-affirming care for transgender youth. This approach typically begins with robust social support, such as the use of preferred pronouns and psychological counseling. When necessary, clinical interventions like puberty blockers may be utilized temporarily to allow more time for youth to explore their gender identity. Hormone replacement therapy and surgeries may be considered in rare cases, with surgeries usually being the final step in transitioning and reserved for older individuals who have undergone other forms of therapy.
Strong Evidence and Mental Health Considerations
The AAP references various studies showing that gender-affirming care is grounded in evidence and can potentially be life-saving for trans youth. When gender dysphoria is left unaddressed, these individuals are more prone to mental health issues. The organization emphasizes the importance of providing comprehensive support to mitigate these risks.
Debate and Restrictions Across States
Despite the AAP’s endorsement, access to gender-affirming care remains heavily restricted or prohibited in 20 US states. Additional states are considering further limitations on these services.
The Positive Impact of Gender-Affirming Care
Even implementing social measures like using preferred names and pronouns can have a significant positive impact on a child’s emotional well-being. Prescribing gender-affirming care, including counseling and medical interventions, provides crucial support for trans youth.
As the AAP continues to support transgender care for minors, concerns about long-term risks and the ongoing cultural divide fuel the ongoing debate surrounding this critical issue.