Treatment

The reporting is always so incomplete, not to say distorted.

Arkansas bans transgender youth treatment

It’s not “treatment” though. It’s not medicine to cure a disease. It is, at the very least, disputed whether or not it’s a good idea to give adolescents who say they are the other sex surgeries and/or puberty blockers and/or cross-sex hormones. None of that is straightforwardly “treatment.” Given the fact that some people who have gone through one or more of those interventions now regret it, it’s all the more dubious to call it “treatment.” Being female or male isn’t an illness, and doesn’t in itself require treatment. Responsible journalism should be cautious about adopting terminology that assumes there is an illness or condition that requires “treatment” to enable the patient to appear to be the other sex.

Arkansas has become the first US state to outlaw gender confirming treatments and surgery for transgender people under the age of 18.

But what are “gender confirming treatments”?

The bill also in effect bans doctors from providing puberty blockers, or from referring them to other providers for the treatment.

Puberty blockers are radical interventions, that do a lot of damage to young bodies, much of it permanent. It may be worth it to some people, but they’re very unlikely to know that at age 12 or so. The whole idea is risky at best, so it’s not just obviously wicked or tragic that doctors and providers can’t do the risky thing.

The bill has faced much opposition from groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics, which said the law would block trans youth from important medical care and increase their already high risk of suicide.

It isn’t medical care though. It may be a kind of psychological care, but it’s highly contested whether it’s good psychological care or not.

And the suicide threat is outright bad journalism. Journalists have been instructed not to promote suicidal ideation that way, but they keep doing it.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said it was preparing litigation, stating that the bill “will drive families, doctors and businesses out of the state and send a terrible and heart-breaking message to the transgender young people who are watching in fear”.

Maybe not. Maybe the ACLU is just wrong. Maybe the bill will save young people from doing irreversible damage to their own bodies. Maybe the ACLU isn’t thinking about this carefully enough.

Dr Jack Turban, a fellow in child and adolescent psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine, told the BBC that access to gender-affirming care for trans youth is “consistently linked to better mental health outcomes”.

He added that much of the political discourse around this care has been shrouded in unscientific misinformation that implies “transgender youth are ‘confused’ or invalid.”

And Dr Jack Turban knows for sure that none of them are confused? Does that seem likely or even possible given the amount of bullshit there is being talked on this subject – including by Dr Jack Turban?

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