GOP’s rally against transgenders and mental health implications

After writing about how the pandemic affected people’s mental health, I did not think I would pursue a similar topic. This problem, however, is not a consequence of a global pandemic that forced us to isolate for the sake of society, but rather a byproduct of society’s ignorance and fear of the unknown. As I was preparing to tackle a more political issue, I came across a news article about how the state of Arkansas passed a bill called HB 1570, the “Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act”. 

What does the bill entail?

Legislators passed the aforementioned bill making Arkansas the first U.S. state to do so. The bill restrains doctors from providing certain types of care to transgender youth, that is puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, or gender-affirming surgery. This comes after a record of 82 anti-trans bills among a total of 158 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced across 22 states in 2021 alone. In comparison, there were 79 anti-trans bills introduced in the whole of 2020. 

The suffering of transgenders:

From basic human rights and freedoms to effect on mental health, the number of issues this GOP-initiated anti-trans movement ensues is manifold. Similar to homosexualism, transgenderism was perceived as a form of mental disability before being reinterpreted through a clinical diagnosis called gender dysphoria. Symptoms, their appearance, frequency, and further complications vary from person to person, but generally people suffering from gender dysphoria experience a low self-esteem, social isolation, depression/anxiety, taking unnecessary risks, and self-neglecting. People who go through a gender transitioning are frequently subjected to transphobia, which is perceived or intended hatred, repulsion, or prejudice.  

The worrying consequences this bill will have on the youth:

The problem that might arise among the readers is that the bill bans the American youth from using gender transitioning therapies. One could simply argue how the bill should thus not be met with such distaste since adolescents are going through puberty and are too young to understand their body and mind. However, research shows different, more worrying consequences this bill might have on the youth. A report from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law found a connection between discriminative experience and suicidality for transgenders. Further on, research shows how, out of the 217 participants, 45.9% reported high transgender-based discrimination. Consequently, the odds of PTSD increased threefold among higher exposure in comparison with lower exposure. Similarly, high exposed people had twice the odds of depression than those with lower exposure. Also, those reporting higher exposure had almost eight times higher odds of stress occurrence which amplified the thoughts of suicide. To put it in a clearer perspective, transwomen who experienced physical violence due to being transgender had almost four times greater possibility of suicidal ideation and five times greater possibility of a suicide attempt. 

It does not stop there. The largest survey of LGBTQ youth (40000>) conducted in 2020 shows how 40% of respondents had serious consideration of suicide in the past twelve months, among them being more than half of transgender youth.  Among the 48% of LGBTQ youth who reported engaging in self-harm, more than 60% are transgender or nonbinary youth. 10% of all respondents underwent conversion therapy, with 78% reporting the conversion occurring when they were under the age of 18. 29% of LGBTQ youth have been homeless, kicked out, or ran away. There are a lot more numbers, but to close it up I think it is important to show how, among the 46% of LGBTQ youth respondents in need of psychological or emotional counseling, nearly half didn’t receive proper mental health care. 

Research shows how transgender children who receive gender-affirming medical care in earlier stages of their lives are less prone to mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. In addition, youth who receives puberty blockers in adolescence have lower risks of suicidal thoughts as adults. Finally, gender identity affirmation seems to be one of the most important factors among the LGBTQ. Transgender and nonbinary youth whose pronouns are respected report how they attempted suicide at half the rate of those whose pronouns are not respected. 

My column and its numbers end here, but the problem persists. Credible studies demonstrate how gender-affirming care is strongly connected with reduced rates of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicide attempts. Simply put, it saves lives. Having been subjected to disproportionate rates of violence, mental health complications, and suicide attempts, the previously mentioned bill strikes a devastating blow on the troubled youth. 

Who has raised their voice in regards to the bill?

Many concerned groups, including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Psychiatric Association, American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Campaign have expressed their fury and disappointment with the bill being passed as they further seek to help this already marginalized group of people. However, these bills are going to continue being introduced in Republican-led states as their stance towards transgenderism seems clear and derogatory. Politics should absolutely abstain from these issues and allow medical experts to help in accordance with the Hippocratic oath, to the best of their abilities. Gender identity remains a wide-open field of research with new findings allowing us to better understand those undergoing changes so as to feel confident and comfortable in their bodies. What I would derive as the essence of this issue is that we should not be afraid of the unknown. History has taught us all too well what one human is capable of doing to another due to ignorance and xenophobia. As social animals, it is only natural how we seek social inclusion and acceptance. LGBTQ, transgender, non-binary, these are mere aids for those struggling with identity to find inner peace and happiness. It is up to everyone else to help them find it by accepting them for who they are.

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