Even in areas without a ban, gender-affirming treatment is becoming scarce.
The topic of gender-affirming care for minors has been one of the most controversial across the country in recent years. In states where Republican lawmakers tend to hold the majority, there have been bans enacted that prohibit healthcare providers from offering this service to underaged patients. Those kinds of bans are not in effect nationwide, and they aren’t even in effect in all of the typically Republican states.
With that said, some young patients and their families are starting to find this type of care harder to come by, even in places where it isn’t currently illegal. That’s a concerning trend for many and one that is leading to plenty of hardships for individuals who wish to receive a certain type of care and are finding it unavailable.
Without an actual ban in place, it might seem from a distance like healthcare facilities would be able to continue providing patients under the age of 18 with gender-affirming care. That might technically be true, but as is so often the case, the devil is in the details. When taking a closer look, it becomes obvious that the intent behind some law changes is to put a stop to gender-affirming care, even if the law doesn’t go so far as to formally make it illegal.
Upon closer inspection, some of the laws that are being passed make it particularly risky financially for these healthcare businesses to provide the care, even if they aren’t being stopped from doing so. For instance, in Missouri, a new law allows a patient to take legal action against the provider for harm until they reach the age of 36, or in some cases, even longer. With minimum damages in such a case set at a half-million dollars, and the burden of proof placed on the provider, it’s hard to make a business case to continue providing these services. So, while not a ban in name, it is effectively accomplishing the same thing.
The messiness of the changing legal status of this type of healthcare is inevitably doing harm to young people who need, and in some cases were already receiving, this type of care. Individuals who were on a better track in life, perhaps recovering from mental health struggles and seeing a brighter future, are suddenly thrust back into a struggle that they felt was in the past. In some cases, the legal status of changing laws in Republican-led states has led families to consider moving, or at least driving long distances to receive the care they need.
The unnecessary struggle for young people to get the gender-affirming care that they need is alarming and only getting worse in certain parts of the country. There are sure to be many legal battles playing out in the years ahead that will determine whether or not these bans can continue, and in what form they will be able to exist. Sadly, along the way, countless individuals will not be able to get the care they need in a safe and timely manner.