On April 19, a highly controversial Senate Bill 5599 titled "An Act Relating to Supporting Youth and Young Adults in Need of Health Care Protection" passed the Washington State Senate and now awaits the state governor's signature. The bill primarily aims to support transgender youth, for whom health care is legally available in Washington. The main change is that young people are now allowed to make the transition without parental confirmation.
If children do not have parental consent, they can run away from home and enter a shelter that will provide special "affirming care" for those who want to make a transition, which is supplied with hormone medications and drugs that block puberty. Most importantly, shelters don't have to call parents if the child doesn't want them to, which means it's up to the child to decide if he or she wants to change his or her gender identity.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre openly claimed that such a law is needed in the recent banning of minor gender-affirming care by some states in the US: "This administration has their back", she said.
Back in January, this bill was drafted and began to be discussed. The discussion around transgender youth was prompted by the rapid simultaneous growth of sex reassignment clinics (in 2007, there was only one such clinic in the United States, today, there are over 50) and the sharp rise in the number of people who want to change their sex. All of this has expanded and inevitably strengthened the LGBTQ+ lobby, turning it from a personal to a political topic of discussion and a new outraged battle between "blues" and "reds".
The Republican response to the not-new (60 years ago, Johns Hopkins Hospital already had sex-affirming surgeries) but rapidly growing medical business and the Left's insistence on pushing similar bills has been expectedly conservative. By the end of April 2023, 13 states had banned medical procedures and surgeries or restricted them to minors under 18.
Perhaps the most striking example of this struggle is the discussion in late March of this year in Kentucky of Senate Bill 150, prohibiting sex reassignment before age 18. The "anti-trans Frankenstein bill", as Democrats called it, was vetoed by Democratic Governor Andy Beshear. Still, he could not prevent the bill from going into effect because the majority voted yes.
As Secretary Jean-Pierre unequivocally summed up, the idea lies behind the Washington bill is to defeat such decisions and perhaps attract more people among the trans community who can, for example, make the ten-hour trip from Frankfort to Washington and find shelter there.
But officially, the main idea is "saving children's lives " to prevent suicides related to gender dysphoria. Also, to protect transgender teens from abuse by family and society. In this sense, abuse is defined by Democrats as parents ignoring or not accepting their child's gender issues and prohibiting the child's medication-supported transition.
Republicans' understanding of abuse is quite the opposite: "Child abuse" is primarily understood as interfering with a child's body and mind with such "affirming care" and pushing the child to make a serious permanent decision before adulthood.
As expected, this bill split the Senate almost in half; emotions ran high during the debates. It's hard not to understand loving parents on this issue: what to do if your child is not back from school, and the State has every right not to tell you where she or he is?
The problem here is not only the threat to family privacy but also the fact that such "affirming care" can cause irreversible, lifelong changes in the human body and put one at risk for cancer, as medical professionals recognize that this is one of the supposed side effects of hormone therapy.
Not to mention the changes in appearance that can affect the body even without surgery: girls who take testosterone during puberty may never have a feminine voice tone because their vocal cords thicken, or they may even develop baldness that won't go away if they stop the therapy. Interrupted puberty can also subsequently affect bone density, as well as lead to infertility.
Unfortunately, those activists and trans lobbies do not want to hear the stories of so-called "detransitioners" who have encountered the negative consequences of their transition and realized that it was a mistake. Often, these stories involve therapists who provide "affirmative therapy, " therapy that initially supports a specific position on the issue. In contrast, professional psychotherapy is neutral toward the patient's choices.
Brian Wagoner, who, at 31, realized that his 10-year experience as a female Brianna was a mistake supported by his female therapist, is an LGBTQ+ activist. Seeing the picture from the inside, he notes, "Doctors here earn a lot of money. They see the dollar signs, and in the end, it's the money that decides".
A famous story is that of Chloe Cole, who began her transition at age 12 and went deeper than Brian: the girl underwent breast removal surgery. "If you are thinking of transitioning, please wait until you are a fully developed adult", she says. Now she is suing Kaiser Permanente, a prominent American medical organization, for medical malpractice.
Suicidal rates among trans-community almost unchanged after the transition
The main argument of the sponsors of SB 5599 is to treat transgender youth for gender dysphoria or depression with medical procedures and surgeries that are thought to help. In reality, the effectiveness of such treatments has not been proven. Various research suggests that the transgender population is more prone to suicide. Still, this number does not decrease or decrease significantly after surgery (see, for example, the research by the Dutch scientists in The Amsterdam Cohort of Gender Dysphoria Study).
Even LGBTQ+ lobby, such as quite out-of-the-box orthodox rabbi Mike Moskowitz, who became an advocate of LGBTQ+, emphasizes that the suicide rate among the trans community is over 40 per cent. The Transgender Survey of the US 2015 report showed that 9% of those who didn't get the affirming care made suicidal attempts, and still 5% made attempts after receiving such care. So, changing the body doesn't always solve mental issues.
There is no guarantee of a happy future for the kid, who made a transition, and today's level of politicizing of the subject seems only doing things worse. But we'll see some balancing of this controversial issue in the future.