The topic of transgender healthcare has become a subject of heated debate in recent years, particularly regarding minors and the question of whether they should be allowed to undergo surgical procedures as part of their transition. Some have argued for a ban on such surgeries for minors, citing concerns about their ability to make informed decisions, the potential for regret, and the long-term health risks associated with these procedures. However, there are several reasons why banning transgender minors from accessing surgery is misguided and harmful.
First and foremost, it is essential to recognize that gender dysphoria is a real and significant medical condition that can cause significant distress and impairment in individuals who experience it. For many transgender individuals, transitioning through medical interventions such as hormone therapy and surgeries can be a critical component of their physical and mental well-being. Denying these individuals access to medical care based on their age is not only discriminatory but also has potentially severe consequences for their health and quality of life.
Furthermore, the argument that minors are not capable of making informed decisions about their medical care is not supported by the available evidence. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) guidelines state that decisions about medical interventions should be based on an individual’s capacity to make informed decisions, rather than their age. This capacity can be assessed through a process of informed consent, which involves evaluating an individual’s understanding of the risks and benefits of the procedure, their ability to provide informed consent, and their ability to give a reasoned decision.
Critics of transgender surgery for minors also argue that young people may experience regret later in life. However, studies have shown that the vast majority of individuals who undergo transgender surgery do not experience regret and report significant improvements in their quality of life. Moreover, the notion that regret is more common among young people is not supported by the evidence.
Finally, it is worth considering the potential harm that a ban on transgender surgeries for minors could cause. Denying these individuals access to necessary medical care could lead to increased rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide, all of which are already disproportionately high among transgender individuals. Moreover, it would send a message that their identity is not valid and that they are not entitled to the same rights and freedoms as their cisgender peers.
To add a local perspective to the discussion of banning transgender minors from accessing surgical interventions, we spoke with students at Washington High School Fremont to hear their thoughts on the matter.
Eduardo Hashtop, a junior who identifies as transgender and prefers to remain anonymous, shared, “Banning surgery for minors is wrong. It denies us the chance to fully express our identities and can lead to increased dysphoria and depression. I don’t think anyone should be making decisions for us about our own bodies and medical care.” Emrys Coleman, a sophomore who identifies as cisgender and also prefers to remain anonymous, said, “I don’t think it’s fair to deny someone the medical care they need based on their age. It’s important to trust young people to make their own decisions, especially when it comes to their health and well-being.” David Gonzalez, a senior who also identifies as cisgender, expressed concern about the potential harm a ban could cause, stating, “Transgender individuals already face so many challenges and obstacles, and denying them access to necessary medical care only adds to that. We should be supporting and uplifting marginalized communities, not making it harder for them to live their lives.”
These interviews highlight the diversity of opinions and experiences among students at Washington High School Fremont. However, the overwhelming sentiment is that banning surgical interventions for transgender minors is both discriminatory and harmful. It is essential to listen to and amplify the voices of transgender individuals and their allies to ensure that their rights and well-being are protected.
Banning transgender minors from accessing surgical interventions as part of their transition is both discriminatory and harmful. Decisions about medical interventions should be based on an individual’s capacity to make informed decisions rather than their age. Denying access to these procedures could lead to increased rates of mental health issues and suicide among transgender minors, who are already at heightened risk. It is time to prioritize the health and well-being of transgender youth and provide them with the medical care they need and deserve.
Shazia Shameerullah is a junior at Washington High School. She has lived in Fremont since elementary school. This is her first year at the Hatchet. Her favorite subjects at school include social studies and English. She enjoys being with friends, traveling, cooking, reading, and watching sitcoms. She is interested in reporting on politics, historical events, and local news. Later in life, Shazia hopes to pursue a career in law and to travel to new places.