The Youth Health Protection Act hurts everyone

Image from Pixabay

North Carolina’s state legislature has filed SB 514: the Youth Health Protection Act. The bill is aimed at preventing any type of treatment towards youth that would affirm their gender identity if they are gender non-conforming.

In other words; if your child was assigned female at birth, but you learn they identify as male, any medical treatment to assist them in their transition (should they seek to do so) will be prohibited. And now teachers will be expected to report to parents, in writing, if they feel their child is exhibiting gender “non-conforming” behavior.

Sterilizations, mastectomies, “administering or supplying certain specified medications,” and removing healthy tissue are all prohibited in this bill. Which is interesting, particularly because North Carolina has a history of forced sterilization during the 1950’s. A period where eugenics dominated the political climate. Girls as young as 12 were sterilized for “talk[ing] about boyfriends.” The North Carolina Eugenics Board brought up the idea to legislators because they had been sterilizing patients in mental hospitals and troubled youth since the 1930’s.

Also noting that any type of gender reassignment surgery isn’t an option until someone becomes a legal adult.

A lot of medications that might be prescribed to children, while only done so if it’s determined to be of vital importance, are around mental health issues. Perhaps stemming from gender dysphoria, or from social rejection because of their identity (like lack of access to adequate healthcare, culturally belittled with their real concerns minimized and satirized). So the same mental health treatment I’m able to get would be illegal if I my child needed the same thing while wanting to be who they know they are. And, as the bill states, my child’s medical specialists would be penalized as well. The bill openly states that, in facilities where providers receive State funds, offenders of this bill would receive a $1,000 fine and have their license revoked.

It sounds serious, but it goes completely against the medical advice of experts. The Endocrine Society suggests suppression of the individual’s development through puberty should be the first step in helping them transition. But puberty blockers also can’t be started, or isn’t recommended to start, until the child starts puberty. In 2018, the American Academy of Pediatrics shared their feedback on puberty blockers:

“Gonadotrophin-releasing hormones have been used to delay puberty since the 1980s for central precocious puberty,” wrote lead author Jason Rafferty, MD, MPH, EdM, FAAP, a pediatrician and child psychiatrist at the Adolescent Healthcare Center at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. In adolescents with gender dysphoria, these hormones can “provide time up until 16 years of age for the individual and the family to explore gender identity, access psychosocial supports, develop coping skills, and further define appropriate treatment goals.”

The removal of healthy tissue is curious as well. For starters, children also experience breast cancer. Whether or not it results in a mastectomy is dependent on the individual and the severity of the cancer. It doesn’t change that, in any circumstance where cancer is detected, biopsies must be done. If a child has to receive a biopsy, are they, their parents, and the medical staff, at fault for violating these standards in the new bill?

SB 514 also advocates for a parents right to withhold consent for any procedures that “intend[s] to form their child’s conceptions of sex and gender or to treat gender dysphoria or gender nonconformity.” So parents can deny medical interventions.

Newsflash: they can already do that without this bill. Don’t believe me? Ask the parent of a Jehovah’s Witness that needs a blood transfusion. With perhaps the only exception being emancipated minors (those who are legally without a guardian or parent that is 18+), medical and mental health professionals require parental consent in order to provide care. Even with emancipated minors, there are different state rules around providing care. And the only procedure I could find, nationally, where parental consent wasn’t needed was in treating STIs. All 50 states, and Washington D.C., offer treatment of STIs for patients 12 and up without requiring parental consent.

The final point in the bill is that it aims to prohibit the use of State funds, or governmental health insurance policies, from being used for gender transition procedures. It’s interesting because, if any of the aforementioned is considered part of “gender transitioning,” then they need to stop offering Medicaid recipients sterilization.

I say that as someone on Medicaid where, on multiple occasions, call center representatives have told me while looking for coverage of medications and specialists that I could receive a vasectomy for no charge. And I live in the same county where the North Carolina Eugenics Board introduced the idea of sterilizing citizens.

Ultimately, the bill is based on zero scientific findings and purely on emotions. It comes from a place of wanting to protect children, but it’s against a boogeyman that doesn’t exist. And in the long run, this bill will make things significantly worse off for those truly in need of medical services and already at a disadvantage.

MA Theology, BA Music. Author of “What Happens After Life?”. Mental health advocate with PTSD

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