Just a little tweak

Yay progressive Vermont?

Vermont health insurance regulators are planning to tweak Medicaid rules so transgender youth no longer have to wait until age 21 to seek gender-affirming surgery.

The changes are aimed at removing barriers for people seeking a suite of surgeries in order to alleviate gender dysphoria, a conflict between a person’s gender identity and physical gender, said Nissa James, policy director for the Department of Vermont Health Access.

Well, see, that’s one of those things that can swing either way, depending on how you look at it. It’s “removing barriers” or it’s “removing protections” – depending on how terrific you think it is that kids under 18 can get their breasts or penises cut off because they don’t feel at home in their bodies.

The changes would be “enormously positive” for transgender people in Vermont, especially individuals in their late teens, said Dr. Rachel Inker, who runs the Transgender Health Clinic at the Community Health Centers of Burlington.

“Having young people have to wait until they were 21 just didn’t really make any sense,” Inker said.

Because people under 21 absolutely never change their minds about a decision as they get older.

These surgeries are life-saving, said Dana Kaplan, executive director of Outright Vermont, an organization that supports LGBTQ youth.

Gender identity develops as young as three, he said.

“Here is an opportunity to say you can live the life that is authentically yours,” he said. “Why would we get in the way of that?”

Hmm. Let’s see. Because people who are 16 or 14 or 12 don’t invariably know for certain what the life is that is “authentically theirs”? Because in fact people that age are rather famous for being changeable and easily influenced? Because a breast or a penis once cut off is cut off for good? Because you’re supposed to be the adults, not the excitable teenagers?

A “staggering” percentage of transgender and non-binary youth have reported considering suicide, Kaplan said. Having access to medical care that affirms their identity can save young people years of the distress caused by living in a body conflicting with their gender identity.

Or it can cause them a lifetime of distress caused by living in a body that they had mutilated as teenagers.

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