The Hill recently published a piece detailing how legislation in many Southern states has banned or restricted “gender-affirming treatments” for minors. It claims that majorities of voters oppose this kind of legislation.

Director of Communications at the Campaign for Southern Equality, Adam Polanski, asserted about this legislation:  

“We’ve seen a long history of the South being used as a laboratory for anti-LGBT legislation.”
Adam Polanski

False. Completely make believe.

This statement is false. Polanski equates legislation that bans or restricts gender-transition treatments for youth under 18 with “anti-LGBT legislation.” Let’s look at a few of the state examples and medical risks of gender transitioning children.

This year, the Kentucky, Louisiana, and North Carolina legislatures all overrode vetoes of legislation banning gender-transition treatments, including puberty blockers, hormone treatment, and surgery, for those under the age of 18. All three of these acts do not affect lesbian, gay, bisexual, or adult trans-identifying persons; rather they protect emotionally vulnerable children. They also all make exceptions for those with DSD (differences of sexual development) conditions.  

The two states the article mentions that restrict gender-transition treatments for trans-identifying adults are Florida and Missouri. The law in Florida does not ban these treatments for adults; it simply adds new requirements, such as signing an informed consent form and having a physician oversee the medical procedures—all reasonable elements of medical treatment. The law in Missouri also does not ban the treatments for adults. It just does not allow the use of Medicaid funding for the treatments.

Bans on gender transitions for young people demonstrate that many of these medical treatments come with serious—and even sometimes irreversible—risks

As IW’s recent policy focus showed, 

These risks include irreversible harm to sexual function, reproductive health, and general health. Gender transition patients sometimes lose the ability to orgasm, experience sexual pleasure, reproduce, or breastfeed. They are also at higher risk of osteoporosis, seizures (in epileptic patients), cardiovascular problems, stroke, heart attack, and other health problems.

The FDA itself even put a warning on puberty blockers for minors in 2022 and has not approved puberty blockers for postponing or preventing normal puberty.  

Furthermore, because human brains are not developed until age 25, and children cannot make informed choices about their health, medical decisions involving children should have a higher standard than those involving adults.  

Contrary to the article’s claims, the public generally opposes access to gender-transition treatments for children. A recent Washington Post-KFF poll found that 68% of adults oppose puberty blockers for children aged 10 to 14 and 58% oppose hormones for children aged 15 to 17. Another survey found that 55% of voters believe hormones should be banned for young people and 61% think surgeries should be banned. Additionally, this poll found that 58% of likely voters approve of legislation making gender-transition surgery illegal for minors; 46% strongly approve of such legislation. A Harvard/Harris poll reported that 78% of voters think that gender-transition surgery and puberty blockers should only be allowed for those over 18, and 77% oppose legislation allowing puberty blockers or gender-transition surgery without parental permission.  

The survey cited by the article found that 43% of Americans support laws that criminalize providing gender-transition treatments to those under the age of 18, but this is a 15-percentage point increase since April 2021.    

The Hill piece also referred to a poll that found more than 60% of voters said there is “too much legislation” aimed at “limiting the rights of transgender and gay people in America.” But the bills banning gender-transition for minors do not infringe on the rights of gay or trans-identifying people. They simply reflect the reality that children under the age of 18 should not make irreversible decisions about their bodies. That same poll found that only 38% think that “legislation preventing transgender children from pursuing medical transition and participating in sports is unfair and discriminatory towards transgender children.” 

What is really preventing children from thriving is fast-tracking them down a gender-transitioning path. Legislation that bans or restricts these treatments for youth is not anti-LGBT, but rather recognizes that children are unable to make informed medical decisions that have serious—and potentially permanent—risks.