The Biden administration says it will encourage youths to pursue all forms of gender-affirmation care in their respective states, including sex-reassignment surgery.
In a recent interview with MSNBC, Dr. Rachel Levine, the assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the first openly transgender federal official in a Senate-confirmed role, said transgender youths should follow their hearts with gender-affirming treatments, even in states where such procedures are prohibited.
"So, we really want to base our treatment and affirm our support to empower these youths not to limit their participation in activities in sports, and even limit their ability to get gender-affirmation treatment in their state," said Levine.
While speaking with NBC News anchor/reporter Andrea Mitchell, Levine said there have been a number of "politically motivated attacks through state actions" against transgender youths, while also lamenting the mental-health wellness of this "vulnerable" community of young people.
"Studies show, from the Trevor Project, that all it takes is one supportive adult to make all the difference for an LGBTQI+ youth, transgender youth, in terms of their risk of depression and suicide," Levine said to MSNBC.
She then added: "One supportive adult. That often is a teacher, or some other school personnel. And the 'Don't Say Gay' bill is very damaging to their health."
The last Levine quote is a reference to Florida's "Parental Rights in Education" bill, which forbids elementary school teachers from discussing sexual orientation or graphically sexual ideologies with pupils from kindergarten to third grade.
The Florida bill, signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in March, states: "Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards. Parents would be able to sue districts over violations."
The word "gay" does not appear in the bill text; but left-leaning media and politicians, along with LGBTQ-affiliated groups, have commonly referred to Florida's law as the "Don't Say Gay" bill.
According to parentalrights.org, at least 32 states have adopted some form of Florida's "Parental Rights" bill.
The UCLA-based Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public reports that as of March 2022, at least 15 states have either enacted or will soon approve bills restricting access to gender-affirming care with minors.
"The bills carry severe penalties for healthcare providers, and sometimes families, who provide or seek out gender-affirming care for minors. This study estimates the number of transgender youth at risk of losing access to gender-affirming care under these bills," according to the Williams Institute.
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