Parents are sharing stories about their trans kids to try to stop harmful bills

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'Radical unconditional love for all children should be at the forefront of any decision,' said a Tennessee mother.

Across the country, parents of transgender children are speaking out against bills introduced in state legislatures that would put their kids' well-being at risk. Dozens of bills have been introduced that would restrict transgender young people's access to hormone treatment and puberty blockers and ban them from playing on the sports teams of their gender.

Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky are considering bills prohibiting health care professionals from providing trans-affirming medical care to young people. Lawmakers in Georgia, Missouri, South Dakota, and Tennessee have introduced legislation policing transgender people's participation in sports. A companion bill to Georgia's proposed sports ban could result in a panel of physicians being given the authority to examine athletes' genitals.

Lawmakers have invited experts and stakeholders to testify before their committees for or against the bills. At some hearings, parents of transgender children tell lawmakers about the harm that the bills would cause the young people, who are at a higher risk of attempting suicide and are more likely to say that they feel unsafe and are bullied at school compared to cisgender youth.

Dave Fuller, a police officer in Gadsden, Alabama, and the father of a transgender girl, spoke in front of the state House Judiciary Committee last week against a bill that would punish health care professionals who treat transgender youth, making it a felony to prescribe them puberty blockers or hormone treatments.

Legal experts say the bill could also make it a felony for school staff not to out transgender children to their families.

Fuller, whose child told him she was transgender at 16, responded to the comments of a doctor who claimed that affirming treatment for transgender youth was "misguided therapy," telling the committee that such bills would hurt the mental health of the young people lawmakers said they were concerned about.

He said, "The comment he made where he said, 'Transgenders go eight or nine years where they're just fine and then they commit suicide,' and said it's because they're not getting affirmations anymore — no, I'll tell you why that happens. It is terribly hard to be a transgender person in this world, in this planet anywhere, and God forbid in Alabama, where we're legislating against the health care these kids need."

Fuller said, "After eight or nine years, your butt gets worn out ... when you can't keep a job like anybody else, you can't get the health care everybody else needs ... yeah after eight or nine years, I might get tired too. And maybe we should start seeing them a little bit differently and that would change."

In Tennessee, where lawmakers have proposed a bill to stop transgender students from playing on sports teams of their gender, Aly Chapman, a transgender rights advocate and the mother of a transgender boy, appeared on Feb. 9 before the state House K-12 Committee and spoke against the legislation.

"As a mother, I am anchored in the belief that radical, unconditional love should be at the forefront of any decision," Chapman said.

Chapman went on, "It's heartbreaking. This is your child no matter what. Your child is a part of you and you want the best possible school environment for them and to see this immediate shift from part of the community to unwelcome is very painful."

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended in 2018 that transgender youth "have access to comprehensive, gender-affirming, and developmentally appropriate health care that is provided in a safe and inclusive clinical space."

And some health care professionals say that there is no medical basis for barring transgender people from playing on sports teams of their gender.

Dr. Joshua Safer, executive director of the Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery, said in testimony for the plaintiffs in Hecox v. Little, a lawsuit against an Idaho ban on transgender athletes, "A person's genetic make-up and internal and external reproductive anatomy are not useful indicators of athletic performance. ... After a transgender woman lowers her level of testosterone, there is no inherent reason why her physiological characteristics related to athletic performance should be treated differently from the physiological characteristics of non-transgender woman."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.