A new bill introduced to the Illinois legislature would punish medical professionals assisting trans youth in their transition-related care.
Republican Representative Tom Morrison introduced the bill, titled the Youth Health Prevention Act.
The Act ‘provides that a medical doctor shall not prescribe, provide, administer, or deliver puberty-suppressing drugs or cross-sex hormones and shall not perform [surgeries] on biologically healthy and anatomically normal persons under the age of 18 for the purpose of treating the subjective, internal psychological condition of gender dysphoria or gender discordance.’
The bill also ‘Provides that any efforts to modify the anatomy, physiology, or biochemistry of a biologically healthy person under the age of 18… shall be considered unprofessional conduct and shall be subject to discipline by the licensing entity or disciplinary review board. Provides that no medical doctor or mental health provider shall refer any person under the age of 18 to any medical doctor for chemical or surgical interventions to treat gender dysphoria.’
In addition, it seeks to amend the Medical Practice Act of 1987 to make these changes.
If a doctor does provide any of the aforementioned treatments to trans youth, they could risk losing their medical license.
‘It’s trying to get in between a medical professional, parents, and their children. They’re basically trying to do that because of somebody’s identity,’ Miles Brandy Davis, communications manager and press secretary for Equality Illinois, told ThinkProgress.
‘We’re going down a slippery slope if we’re going to allow a lawmaker to discriminate against somebody because of their identity. What if somebody decided he just doesn’t like people with cancer? Are we going to stand in between them and accessing care? It just blows my mind that a bill like that was even introduced.’
Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago opposed the bill and sent out the following statement:
‘Many of our patients develop anxiety or depression due to the severity of their distress. These young people find a tremendous amount of relief from the medical services that we provide. Through the use of medical and surgical interventions, their bodies begin to align more closely with their identities. And they are able to focus their mental energy on normal, healthy parts of adolescence. Like their studies, relationship building, developing goals for the future, and blossoming into independent adults.’
According to Joshua Safer, executive director for the Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery at Mount Sinai, it would be a breach of medical ethics to fail to treat patients according to standard guidelines.
Safer told ThinkProgress that this type of bill is ‘problematic.’
Why it matters
Trans people and experts on transition-related care believe access to proper treatments can be a matter of life or death. In the past, trans people have died using illegal silicone injections due to the lack of professional guidance. Additionally, the mental health of transgender people is put at risk when they are unable to access the necessary treatments.
A 2018 study showed 51% of trans male adolescents, 30% of trans female adolescents, and 42% of nonbinary youth attempted suicide.
‘By contrast, transgender individuals who have treatment provided as needed have mental health concerns closer to what we see in the general population,’ Safer said. ‘It appears that transgender individuals who seek medical intervention have fewer mental health concerns when that treatment can be provided earlier. That includes patients doing better when they’re able to be treated at younger ages.’
The Youth Health Prevention Act is currently in the Informed Consent subcommittee. However, Davis does not expect it to pass. Still, the introduction of this kind of bill sets a worrisome precedent.
‘Transgender youth face stigma and ignorance throughout their lives. [They] are often forced to forego medically-necessary care for fear of how their parents, their school, or their peers might react,’ Gillian Branstetter of National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) told ThinkProgress. ‘This bill does nothing but add to that pain by rejecting the overwhelming consensus of the medical and childcare community that transgender youth should be validated, believed, and loved.’