American Medical Association to Governors: Let Trans Kids Get the Care They Need

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday April 28, 2021

The American Medical Association addressed the nation's governors in an open letter that denounces anti-trans bills advancing through state legislatures blocking - and in some cases criminalizing - medical treatment for transgender minors.

NBC News reports that the letter, written by the AMA's CEO, James Madara, and addressed to the chairman of National Governors Association, "cited evidence that trans and nonbinary gender identities 'are normal variations of human identity and expression,' " and decried "a dangerous governmental intrusion into the practice of medicine."

The letter (which was posted at the AMA website and which can be viewed at this link) cited an Arkansas measure that provides steep penalties to doctors who treat trans minors and outlaws the accessing of transition-related medical care by people under the age of 18. That law and "similar bills pending in several other states would insert the government into clinical decision-making and force physicians to disregard clinical guidelines," the AMA letter warned.

"Decisions about medical care belong within the sanctity of the patient-physician relationship," the letter added. "As with all medical interventions, physicians are guided by their ethical duty to act in the best interest of their patients".

The letter went on to warn that "forgoing gender-affirming care can have tragic consequences," citing mental health and substance abuse statistics that show trans individuals to be elevated risk - a consequence, the letter said, of "the chronic stress from coping with societal stigma, and discrimination because of one's gender identity and expression.

"Because of this stress, transgender minors also face a significantly heightened risk of suicide," the letter added.

At least four instances of trans teens attempting suicide have been reported since the Arkansas measure became law.

"At least 14 other states are considering similar legislation, according to the American Civil Liberties Union," NBC News noted, going on to detail that a bill in Texas "would define providing gender-affirming care as child abuse, potentially sending parents to prison or removing children from their custody."

Missouri lawmakers, meantime, are mulling "a bill that would revoke the license of doctors who prescribed puberty blockers or hormones to minors."

Similar legislation in North Carolina would have banned treatment of trans people under the age of 21. That measure was abandoned by state lawmakers last week.

"Transgender children, like all children, have the best chance to thrive when they are supported and can obtain the health care they need," the AMA letter pointed out.

The "American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the Pediatric Endocrine Society" have taken similar stands, NBC News said.

"We've been praying for letters from these organizations," Debi Jackson, the mother of a trans teen in Missouri, told NBC News. said. "If anyone can explain why [these bans are] dangerous to lawmakers, it's health care providers."

Jackson went on to add that the health of children "is not something that should be political in the first place."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.