MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Several bills that would prevent transgender youth from seeking gender-affirming therapies are making their way through state legislatures, including Tennessee’s.
CHOICES is a reproductive healthcare center in Memphis that prides itself on being inclusive and patient-centric.
Executive Director Jennifer Pepper said the center’s services include reproductive healthcare and resources for transgender youth and their families.
“Everybody has sexual reproductive healthcare needs, general healthcare needs, mental health care needs. Everybody deserves holistic care,” said Pepper.
Using that holistic approach, CHOICES’ services range from connecting transgender patients to mental health services to educating them about options like puberty blockers.
“Being able to take puberty blockers and put a pause on that transition in life, just gives folks some more time and space to really think about their gender, and how they want to present and how they want to live,” said Pepper.
Pepper added that puberty blockers are 100% reversible with no long-term effects.
But some lawmakers in Tennessee are looking to stop healthcare professionals from providing that care to patients.
HB 578 looks to make it punishable as a class A misdemeanor under a child abuse statute.
Under this same bill parents of transgender youth would need written statements from at least three physicians recommending gender-affirming therapies in order to receive such care.
Similarly, SB 126 bans healthcare providers from prescribing transgender minors hormone treatments.
These bills mirror dozens of others cropping up across the country, including one that was recently passed in Arkansas.
Supporters of the law say it protects children from making decisions they could regret later.
“How do we not protect children? When you’re 18, you can do anything you want,” said Arkansas Senator Alan Clark (R-Lonsdale).
Transgender advocates said delaying care further isolates transgender youth and could have a deadly cost.
“It’s important for people to be able to make those decisions with experts and their parents not with politicians,” said Pepper.
For more information on Transgender resources, visit OUTMemphis here: https://www.outmemphis.org/resources/transgender-resources/