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The New Civil Rights Battle

Arkansas was the first state to pass anti-transgender laws that prohibited gender affirming care for trans minors and even prohibited the referral of these minors to doctors in other states. This law in Arkansas has now been struck down by a U.S. District judge after it was temporarily blocked. Nineteen other states have laws restricting or banning gender affirming care for minors.

I admire the teenagers who testified about what getting the gender affirming care means to them and helped the judge see that the Arkansas law and others like it are unconstitutional. These teens are not only going through a stage that many find awkward, especially in terms of how they look, but they are doing so in a body they feel does not physically portray the gender they feel they are. Imagine having to live with this disconnect. Trans youth have a higher suicide rate than their peers due to this disconnect and a society that is telling them that there is something wrong with them.

I know of a high school student who is taking a trip to Florida with a high school group. Generally, this would be a time for the student to enjoy traveling with friends and being themselves, which means keeping the chaperones busy. Unfortunately, this student is transgender. They have to be careful while traveling in Florida due to the transphobic laws that have been put in place. It reminds me of the difficulties Blacks had when traveling to segregated states and having to mind laws that were targeted against them. Fortunately, they are traveling with supportive chaperones to help them through the trip, but they still have to deal with systemic bigotry that they should not have to deal with.

I have heard people say they do not understand how someone could “think” they are not the gender they were born as physically. There is nothing that says one has to understand why someone feels the way they do in order to have compassion and understanding of their situation. There is a push to ban the gender affirming care for minors because there is a belief that minors are not able to make that decision and could have remorse about doing the gender affirming care later. There are many factors that people are ignorant of about the process of gender affirming care. A person, whether a minor or an adult, will not just wake up one day and decide they want to change the physical representation of their gender. This is a long process that involves mental and physical health professionals and is a costly process in terms of money to complete. It is not something that is done on a whim, but because the only way they can feel happy in their body is to go through this long, costly process. And in terms of the gender affirming care for minors, it is mostly done with hormone suppressing drugs to prevent or stop the changes that happen at puberty. If by chance the person decides to not continue with gender affirming care, the body will readjust when the drugs are stopped with no harm done.

The only harm in this situation is the mental and emotional harm being done to trans minors because of the laws preventing the care they need. One does not have to understand why they have the disconnect between what gender they feel they are compared to what is put on their birth certificate to have compassion for their plight. As a society, we need to stop the alienation of trans people and the hate they are being subjected to due to laws that make them outsiders of our society.

Here is hoping the other laws are also struck down and that there is a movement of understanding and compassion instead of fear and hate.

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