Probing Transgender Laws and Their Impact on School Life: I was a Freak, but I Needed to Be Afraid
A similar struggle is still happening to many trans kids in school. That’s true more than ever in my home state of Virginia, where the state Board of Education has proposed strict new bans on how and where trans kids can participate in school life. A lot of people spoke in favor of the proposed changes in Virginia schools. The new policy will not be put in place until the end of this month to allow officials time to review the comments.
The subject of headlines across the country and even my hometown has become the agenda item. I was being called a freak at a school board meeting by parents who were talking about my genitals in public. They were willing to go as low as possible to hurt a child.
My activism on transgender rights led me to write a children’s book with co-author Kyle Lukoff called “If You’re a Kid Like Gavin,” detailing my battle for equality and freedom. I am hoping that even if they don’t have a supportive parent, they’ll see themselves reflected in its pages.
“We would love to be yelling at the top of our lungs about these issues all the time,” she says. There’s fear of being retaliated against and not knowing what’s coming in the future. She says that the state investigated parents of trans kids for child abuse.
Even as a high school student, I saw that threats to the lives of trans Americans had reached a dangerous tipping point. I had never wanted to be an activist. I was just a kid. It felt like I had to spread the word about the community that had been pushed to the margins.
These treatments, that have allowed me and other transgender people to become the people we were intended to, have been studied and peer reviewed and are best practices developed by the American Medical Association, American Association of Pediatrics, American Psychiatric Association, the Endocrine Society and other leading health organizations.
Yet, across the country, they are being banned, challenged or indefinitely delayed, while people hoping to transition are put through a series of hoops and hurdles before getting access to treatment.
My case ended in favor of trans students. The victory at the Fourth Circuit meant that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is included in the jurisdiction of Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. The Supreme Court declined to weigh in, allowing the decision to stand. All of the schools in the Fourth Circuit were compelled to have a policy in place for the needs and rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans students, because of the Department of Education policies.
After wending its way through the system for four years, the courts ruled the school board was in violation of the Equal Protection Clause and Title IX of the US Education Amendments of 1972, a federal law barring schools from sex discrimination.
Or so I had hoped. In fact, appropriate policies were adopted across the Fourth Circuit in response to social change, other court decisions, the tireless work of transgender activists, as well as the outcome of my case.
Defending Governor Glenn Youngkin with Proposed New Health Measures that Imply Unjustified Rules on Transgender Physical and Mental Health
But last year saw the election of Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, a Republican who ran on a platform that included blatant misinformation and targeted attacks against marginalized communities.
“This ban won’t stop South Dakotans from being trans, but it will deny them critical support that helps struggling transgender youth grow up to become thriving transgender adults,” the statement said. We know the young people can live their truth, and we will fight to protect them from being forced to live a lie.
The model policy of Virginia has a provision allowing schools to go beyond the guidelines and use even more restrictive rules.
It seems as if Gov. Youngkin is willing to reject not only established federal and state law, but also guidance and best practices from leading authorities on the physical and mental health of children and young adults. Youngkin and his administration have couched discriminatory actions in language about protecting children, religious liberty and the rights of parents, but it is my belief that his real agenda is scapegoating a minority already under duress, in a cowardly bid to gain support from his base.
He may succeed in that, but his gains will be temporary. Students across Virginia walked out of school a few weeks ago to protest Youngkin’s restrictions on trans students. Protests are continuing against this unjust proposed policy. The community of trans people is not going away.
With the encouragement of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the state’s Board of Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Medicine both passed rules that will ban gender-affirming care such as puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, as well as surgical procedures, for new patients under age 18.
Sex hormones and gender transition surgery, as well as puberty-blocking medication for patients under the age of eighteen, are not allowed under the new law. Health care providers who violate the new law, which takes effect on July 1, risk civil suits and losing their professional or occupational licenses.
The Defendant of Surgeries-Going-Wrong in South Dakota: The Case for Gender-Afirming Care
Gender-affirming care is medically necessary, evidence-based care that uses a multidisciplinary approach to help a person transition from their assigned gender – the one the person was designated at birth – to their affirmed gender – the gender by which one wants to be known.
“We care deeply about children who are struggling with their identities and want to provide them with true meaningful help, not permanent physical damage,” the Republican said.
Though gender-affirming care is highly individualized, some children may decide to use reversible puberty suppression therapy. This part of the process may also include hormone therapy that can lead to gender-affirming physical change. In most cases, health care providers don’t offer children to minor and surgical interventions aren’t typically done on them.
The bill was passed after the Democratic senator said that Surgeries-gone- Wrong are not happening in South Dakota. I do not need the state legislature when I’m in the doctor’s office.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of South Dakota also issued a statement Monday condemning the new law, calling the signing a “heartbreaking and tragic day for thousands of South Dakotans and their families.”
There are many states that ban care for tranny children. It is only the state that does so through a vote of its medical boards.
The number of states with bans could increase. More than 80 bills were introduced to restrict access to gender-affirming care across the country through February 9, according to data compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Parental Rights for a Gender-Affirming Treatment: Dr. Vila, MD, M. A. Hamner, MD
Assigned male at birth, she identified as nonbinary by fifth grade and decided to use they/them pronouns. Now a seventh-grader in Gainesville, Fla., with a passion for manga and anime video games, and a bedroom filled with stuffed animals, Liz identifies as female and transgender.
After receiving counseling and being diagnosed with a gender Dysphoria, Liz started receiving puberty blockers. She gets a shot of Lupron, a hormone that helps with puberty, every three months.
Virginia Hamner says her daughter “light up” with gender-affirming care. It’s exciting to know that she will be who she wants to be.
As for existing patients such as Liz, who may want to proceed on to cross-sex hormones (estrogen in her case; testosterone for transgender males), the language of the new rules is vague.
“It doesn’t feel like it’s over, which makes living in Florida really challenging right now,” she says, “because you’re basically being told that your child shouldn’t be able to be who they are, and that it would be better if they didn’t exist in the way that you, medical professionals, and the child who is thriving, feel is best for the child.”
“If it gets too bad, I’m also already thinking about for high school going to a boarding school that isn’t in Florida,” she says, “which would honestly make things a lot easier.”
The governor has made “parental rights” a theme as he watches a potential White House bid.
She says it’s a gut punch. “It’s so frustrating to hear the rhetoric of parental rights be used to say, ‘Kids shouldn’t have access to treatment because we need to let them be kids.’ You’re right when it’s like that. And guess what? I just want my child to be happy.
But Gov. DeSantis has called the treatment “an example of woke ideology infecting medical practice.” The treatments were called “risky and unproven” by the state’s surgeon general. The board was acting to protect children fromirreversible harm by banning gender-affirming care, according to Dr. Vila.
The Tampa Bay Times has reported that many of the members of the Board of Medicine who were appointed by Gov. DeSantis have contributed to his campaigns or political committee.
Florida Bans Gender-affirming Care for Trans Kids: a Conversation with a Tallahassee Mom from the Office of Dr. Kristin Dayton
Pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Kristin Dayton, who runs the Youth Gender Program at the University of Florida in Gainesville, disputes claims that gender-affirming care is risky or experimental.
There is a lot of evidence to show that it is safe and healthy for children. “It’s pretty offensive to me, because I pride myself in being someone who always follows the evidence, does the right thing for my patients.”
Dayton worries about her patients, many of whom haven’t yet started on puberty blockers or hormones, and now won’t be able to. People are asking what to do when this passes, and they are not sure what they are going to do. We do not have the answers.
Dayton’s colleague, clinical psychologist Jennifer Evans, says she is “extremely concerned” about what the ban will mean for her patients’ mental health. She points to research that says medical transition has benefits. Depression rates go down. She says suicidal thoughts and attempts go down with that. The anxiety goes down. The rates of eating disorders begin to go down. Substance abuse rates start to go down.”
Here’s what a Tallahassee mom named Sandi heard from her transgender son’s doctor, who explained that he will not prescribe anything beyond the son’s current puberty blockers. “One thing he has said several times is ‘I don’t want to go to jail,'” she recounts.
She was wearing a shirt that said “Believe Trans Kids” when she was visited at home by NPR. “I probably have a shirt for every day of the week!” she says with a laugh. It’s a good conversation starter.
Eliminating Trans Kids from the United States — What Happens when You Can’t See Who You Are: Sandi’s son River, who’s been on puberty blockers, and what she wants to do in Oregon
Sandi’s son River (we’re using his middle name, as he’s not out yet to all of their extended family) started saying he was a boy, and presenting as a boy, when he was about 3 years old.
Her son has been on puberty blockers and she says he has flourished in the past year. “I have this glorious picture right after he got his first puberty blocker shot where he is literally, like, ear to ear smiling,” she says. “He’s glowing. I felt like he could finally put his shoulders down, like, relax.”
She worried about the invalidation of who River was in the current climate. “Constantly seeing that who you are is a political debate, [or] an agenda item on anyone’s list,” she says, “makes you feel less than human.”
The constant focus on trans kids is demoralizing for her. “There are some days that you look at everything going on and you are just paralyzed by fear of what’s coming at your kid next,” she says. You can’t show it to your trans kid. It’s tiring. You know, it’s so exhausting.”
Sandi is on regular calls with other families who have trans kids, many of whom are planning what she calls “escape routes.” They’re considering moving out of Florida to more trans-friendly states.
She and her husband think about it, too; they think about moving to Oregon, where they have family. It’s hard to imagine uprooting their support system.
“The fact that you have to consider re-homing your family to have access to health care in the United States in 2023 is ridiculous,” she says. I want my kid to be healthy and happy. I don’t think that’s a lot to ask.
The director of trans equality for the gay, lesbian, and bisexual group Equality Florida talked to a group of families who were planning to leave the state.
“They’re like, ‘Listen. My number one priority is the health care of my child. And there are states who will allow that to happen seamlessly. And I’m not going to sit here and just wait in limbo to see what happens.’ “
“Florida is a place for everybody, and we need to make sure that we stand firm in that,” saidParker, who was raised in the state. And it just makes me sad to see where we are, because this isn’t the Florida that I was born in.”
Trans advocates have vowed to fight Florida’s new rules in court. Chriss is the director of the Transgender Rights Initiative at the nonprofit public interest law firm Southern Legal Counsel.
What Can We Do to Save the World from Going Through Adversarial Misfits? A Commentary on ‘Disappearance Of My Heart And The Fate Of My Husband’
It’s very demoralizing to think we’re losing on a daily basis. It really does take a toll,” she says. “All we can do is keep fighting.”