Published March 18, 2023 by Nan Mykel

To the members of the Georgia House of Representatives and Senate,

Last week the Georgia Senate passed a ban on health care for transgender youth that would prevent health care providers like us from offering our patients safe, effective and life-saving forms of health care. The Georgia House passed a version of the bill today, March 16.

As medical professionals, we are appalled to see politicians promote an agenda with such disregard for standards of medical care. Gender-affirming health care is supported by every leading medical and mental health association in the U.S. including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association.

We have seen firsthand how access to quality gender-affirming care has improved the lives of our patients. For children before puberty, gender-affirming health care consists of social support, where providers like us work with parents to help their kids choose clothes or a name that makes them feel comfortable. For adolescents experiencing puberty, medicine can be prescribed to temporarily delay puberty or help manage gender dysphoria, which causes intense distress and prevents young people from living their day-to-day lives.

These forms of care have long been proven to lower the risk of depression, suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts for transgender and non-binary youth. Simply put, access to health care allows young people to live happy, healthy, and fulfilled lives that they otherwise may not have.

But a handful of politicians behind this bill are choosing to prey on people’s lack of familiarity about what it means to be transgender in order to push legislation that shamelessly contradicts decades of proven scientific research. They’re making clear that they’re prioritizing their own interests – not those of Georgia’s youth – by ignoring the facts and spreading dangerous misinformation.

While the author of SB 140 claims that the bill doesn’t intend to harm anyone, we know from our experiences that revoking access to this health care will inflict severe harm on transgender kids across Georgia. You don’t have to take our word for it – the numbers speak for themselves. In 2022, more than 55% of transgender and non-binary youth in our state considered suicide. Efforts to roll back their fundamental rights, including their access to health care, are furthering the negative impacts on LGBTQ+ youth’s mental health. It’s unfathomable that lawmakers in Georgia are failing to do anything to combat this actual health crisis, while continuing to push restrictions on the care that actually helps our communities.

If Georgia lawmakers were truly concerned about keeping families and children safe and healthy, they would be focused on the real issues facing our state’s health care system, like the fact that too many families can’t afford the basic medicine and doctors’ visits they need. Instead, we’re hearing from families who are scared they’ll no longer be able to access the care their children need, and colleagues who are scared we will face penalties or lose our jobs for simply following medical best practices.

We’ll tell you what we tell the parents of transgender kids who visit our clinics: you don’t need to understand everything about what it’s like to be transgender to know that all kids deserve to be healthy and safe. When it comes to family decisions about health care, we work hard to give parents all the information they need to make informed choices and to respect each family’s unique circumstances and decisions.

Politicians shouldn’t be in the room for private family conversations like this. SB 140 is a clear form of government overreach that violates parents’ and providers’ rights by taking away their ability to freely discuss health care options and make decisions about what’s in the best interest of transgender youth. Our government should be helping families make ends meet, not telling parents who love their transgender children that they don’t know what’s best for their own children.

Our lawmakers are again putting political games over the health, safety, and well-being of the constituents they were elected to serve. It’s time for constituents to speak up and fight for our rights to freedom and privacy. Tell politicians to get out of your family’s private conversations and out of your doctor’s office.

As this bill moves back to the Georgia Senate for further consideration, we’re urging our lawmakers to keep their politics out of our clinics. They need to leave medical decisions to the actual medical experts and reject SB 140, before it causes irreversible harm in our state.

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