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We Need to Talk About Transgender Healthcare

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

As much as society has made strides for LGBTQ+ rights, it has also regressed, considering the prevalence of violence, discrimination, and backward legislation against the community in recent times. For example, the Florida Board of Education approved Governor Ron DeSantis’s expansion of the “Don’t Say Gay” law in April 2023. This June, Texas became the largest state to ban transgender care for minors while the Human Rights Campaign declared the first-ever “State of Emergency'' for LGBTQ+ Americans. Now more than ever, the LGBTQ+ community needs allyship in the face of hatred. At a time when hundreds of similar laws and bills are being introduced and signed, specifically targeting gender-affirming care, this post aims to dispel some common myths and misconceptions about transgender healthcare.

Myth #1: The rise in the number of people identifying as transgender, non-binary, or gender non-conforming is due to a trend or a “social contagion.”

Reality: The number of transgender people has remained relatively steady over time, but the trend of more youth identifying as transgender is likely due to increased social acceptance and a rise in transgender-specific surveys and studies. The narrative that the number of transgender individuals has suddenly increased is not only misleading but also harms trans people. Though open hostility towards trans individuals has increased in past years, today’s environment remains more welcoming of youth coming out as transgender than that of the past. This also explains the increase in middle-aged and senior individuals coming out as trans for the first time.

Myth #2: Transitioning is as simple as getting gender affirmation surgery.

Reality: Transitioning is a long and complicated process and is not limited to medical procedures. While transitioning, trans individuals make various changes to express their gender identity in a way that truly represents themselves. This can include “easier” changes, like a different clothing style or the use of makeup, and more extensive changes, such as hormonal therapy and gender-affirming surgery, which occur over longer periods of time. Transitioning can especially be difficult for minors, as they cannot decide to do so on their own. Assuming they have parental/family approval, medical care options can be extremely limited for children up until age 14-16. Thus, their transitions are largely focused on social changes. If they want to medically transition with puberty blockers, they have to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria, which is prolonged by requirements for multiple rounds of counseling. Additionally, a patient may wait years before getting an appointment. Thus, transitioning is a journey, not a single decision made at one point in time.

Myth #3: Most trans people regret getting gender-affirming treatment.

Reality: A systematic review published by the National Library of Medicine found that only 1% of people regretted getting gender-affirming surgery. In comparison, at least 20% of US adults with tattoos regret getting them. Over 60% of people regret getting cosmetic/plastic surgery. Twenty percent of people regret combining finances after marriage. Additionally, especially for trans youth, gender-affirming surgeries or treatment usually occur after years of discussion with doctors and/or family, which allows the patient to make informed decisions about their health. Despite having higher regret rates, there is not a call from lawmakers to ban tattoos, plastic surgery, or married couples trying to merge their bank accounts. Therefore, they should not be able to interfere with a trans person’s decision to undergo gender-affirming treatment. 

These are just three of the numerous myths, misconceptions, and stereotypes that are continuously being spread to target, delegitimize, and harm the trans community. As more legal, medical, economic, and social obstacles stand in the way of trans and LGBTQ+ individuals, it is important to consult numerous resources after seeing a statement that claims to be a universal truth or experience within the community. 


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