Senators call for mental health guidelines for trans youth


by Kilian Melloy

EDGE staff reporter

Friday, October 8, 2021

(Source: Getty Images)

Democratic senators sent a letter to officials at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) calling for the agency to establish “best practice” guidelines “to meet the mental health needs of trans children and not binary ”. NBC News reported.

The letter was addressed to HHS Deputy Secretary Dr Rachel Levine (who, as NBC News noted, is “the country’s first transgender federal public servant”) and Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, “the deputy health secretary for mental health and substance use, ”NBC mentioned.

Noting that “there is still clearly discrimination,” Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut told NBC News that such directives from the federal agency would be “a really important signal for the administration to send that we do not we not only expect there to be a lack of discrimination. We expect there to be a culture of empathy and understanding and appropriate treatment for LGBT youth who enter residential care facilities. health. “

Pressure from Democratic senators to ensure transgender and gender-non-conforming youth are respected by medical professionals comes at a time when Republican lawmakers in several states have targeted these same children with a host of anti-trans laws designed to limit or deny access to team sports and public facilities, and even deny them medically appropriate health care.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, trans and gender nonconforming youth in these states show signs of greater mental health distress than their counterparts elsewhere. “The Trans lifeline, the nation’s leading transgender helpline, saw a 72% increase in calls from Texas in May compared to May 2020, ”NBC News noted. “In May, lawmakers in Texas began considering a dozen bills aimed at limiting transgender rights.

One such bill has failed three times in the Texas State House of Representatives, but Republican lawmakers have now routed the bill through another committee, chaired by a lawmaker from the ‘Republican State, Spectrum News 1 reported. State lawmakers expect the bill, which “would require transgender students to play on sports teams that match their assigned sex at birth, rather than their gender identity,” now adopted by the House.

Defenders denounced the toll that such legislative targeting is taking on young people. “This debate repeated on: ‘Do you have the right to play sports? Are you allowed to go to the doctor and get gender affirming care? Are you allowed to use the toilet that you must use at school? “Everything has a very intense negative impact on the mental health of LGBTQ youth, especially trans and non-binary youth,” Jonah Dechants, research scientist for the Trevor Project, told Spectrum News 1.

Even without being the target of legislative attacks, these children are at much higher risk of self-harm or suicide than cisgender and heterosexual youth. NBC News noted that a survey carried out this year through The Trevor project “found that more than half of trans and non-binary youth seriously considered suicide in the past year.”

“A similar survey conducted by the project in 2020 yielded almost identical results, with both surveys covering tens of thousands of LGBTQ youth,” the article adds.

Transgender people of all ages face discriminatory treatment in medical settings, the article says, with a recent survey showing “that almost half of transgender adults reported at least one form of abuse or discrimination during the year”.

Bri Barnett of Trans Lifeline told NBC News that “trans people face disproportionately with mental health issues,” one of the main contributors to this being discriminatory treatment that “takes place in a medical setting.”

Barnett said federal guidelines ensuring equitable health care for transgender and gender non-conforming youth, as well as “having a supportive community that ensures trans youth are assertive and receive the care they need. is the greatest intervention we can do to support the mind [health] trans youth. “

Kilian Melloy is Associate Editor and Staff Contributor at EDGE Media Network. Its professional members include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Elliot Norton Awards Committee of the Boston Theater Critics Association.

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