GREENVILLE, S.C. — More than 200 medical professionals from across the South released a statement expressing strong opposition to new legislation that has been filed in states across the country, including a cluster of Southern states, prohibiting doctors from providing medically necessary care to transgender children under the age of 18. Signatories of the statement, an effort coordinated by the Campaign for Southern Equality, include physicians, nurses, physician assistants, psychiatrists and mental health professionals. Nearly all of the signers work directly with transgender adolescents or adults.

These bills have been introduced in South Carolina, Kentucky, South Dakota, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Missouri. Advocates in Florida rallied against similar legislation and declared the bill dormant after lawmakers said they would not meet again to consider the bill.

The statement reads:

As medical professionals serving Southerners, we have an obligation to advocate for the health of all of our patients and oppose discrimination. That’s why we strongly oppose legislation that targets transgender young people for discrimination.

Several bills currently filed or being drafted in state legislatures seek to prohibit doctors from providing medically necessary care to transgender children under the age of 18. Some bills even make it a felony for physicians to deliver this vital care to their patients.

These bills run counter to the growing consensus in the medical community that improving access to gender-affirming care is a central means of improving health outcomes for transgender people. Major medical associations, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Medicine, recognize that supporting transgender youth is critical to their health and well-being.

Many credible studies of trans youth populations have demonstrated that gender-affirming care is linked to significantly reduced rates of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicide attempts. Gender-affirming care reduces reliance on self-prescribed and self-administered hormone use, which can be dangerous without the oversight of a physician.

To put it plainly, gender-affirming care saves lives and allows trans young people to thrive.

Anti-transgender bills would not only violate the rights and freedoms of transgender young people – they are also an attempt to prohibit medical professionals from doing our jobs, an effort to force us to violate existing standards of medical care for transgender patients.

We believe that all people, including transgender people, should be treated with dignity and respect no matter where they live.

For all of these reasons, we stand united in opposition to anti-transgender legislation and in support of gender-affirming care for transgender youth.

For a full list of signatories, visit bit.ly/2HtL7lM.

The Campaign for Southern Equality partnered with the following for support in distributing the sign-on letter: ACLU of Kentucky, Alliance for Full Acceptance, Charleston Area Transgender Support, Charlotte Transgender Healthcare Group, Fairness Campaign, Gender Benders, PFLAG Spartanburg, Pride Link, QMed, Uplift Outreach Center, and Western NC Community Health Services. Medical professionals who want to add their name to the statement can visit bit.ly/2Hvtj9L to sign on.

info: southernequality.org.

Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen is QNotes' former associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director.