More than 20 percent of transgender children and adolescents in the U.S. can no longer legally access gender-affirming health care because of new state laws that bar doctors from providing certain medications or services to minors, according to a Wednesday report from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a national LGBTQ advocacy organization.
Of the more than 300,000 transgender 13- to 17-year-olds currently living in the U.S., close to one in four — around 66,600 people — have lost access to gender-affirming health care. This is due to a slate of recently enacted laws and policies that target the use of puberty blockers, hormone therapies and surgeries to treat gender dysphoria, the HRC said Wednesday.
With more than 100 bills targeting transgender health care under consideration in over half the nation this year, an additional 28 percent of transgender children and teens may soon lose access to care considered medically necessary by most major medical organizations, according to the report.
States including Texas and South Carolina are debating legislation that would restrict access to gender-affirming health care for transgender people up to 26 years old. A similar bill, known as the “Millstone Act” in a reference to the Bible, was introduced in January, though the measure’s sponsor has since lowered the bill’s age restriction to 18.
In a statement on Wednesday, Jay Brown, HRC’s senior vice president of programs, research and training, said LGBTQ people in the U.S. are “living in a state of emergency.”
“Today’s findings illustrate how the ongoing assault against transgender people is taking hold across the country and underscore how dire the situation is growing for our community by the day,” Brown said.
In a May report released by The Trevor Project, a leading LGBTQ youth suicide prevention group, 93 percent of transgender and nonbinary 13- to 24-year-olds said they were worried about transgender people being denied access to gender-affirming medical care because of state or local laws.
Their report also found that 45 percent of LGBTQ young people last year seriously considered suicide, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth.
Brown accused state lawmakers backing the legislation to heavily restrict or ban access to gender-affirming health care for youth of being “power-hungry” and said their policy proposals are not rooted in credible science.
“These politicians are spreading propaganda and creating more stigma, discrimination, and violence against transgender people just to rile up extreme members of their base,” Brown said.
Since 2021, seven states – Arkansas, Arizona, Alabama, Utah, South Dakota, Mississippi and Tennessee – have passed laws prohibiting health care providers from providing gender-affirming medical care to transgender minors. In Florida, a new state health department rule bars transgender youths from accessing care.
A second Florida rule, adopted by the state Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) in August, prohibits transgender Floridians, regardless of age, from using Medicaid to help pay for gender-affirming health care, impacting an estimated 9,000 of the state’s residents.