FACT SHEET: Evidence based healthcare for transgender people and youth

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October 26, 2022

Gender-affirming care for transgender people and youth is supported by every major medical association and leading health authority. Efforts to ban and criminalize this care are not based in medical or scientific expertise, and frequently spread misinformation about what the care is.

Below are facts to inform the public and media about the safety and efficacy of this essential healthcare. Reporters covering efforts to ban gender-affirming care should include these facts:

  • Best practices medical care for transgender youth is supported by every leading medical association including the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychiatric Association, The Endocrine Society, and The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Statements here.
     
  • American Academy of Pediatrics: “There is strong consensus among the most prominent medical organizations worldwide that evidence-based, gender-affirming care for transgender children and adolescents is medically necessary and appropriate. It can even be lifesaving. The decision of whether and when to start gender-affirming treatment, which does not necessarily lead to hormone therapy or surgery, is personal and involves careful consideration by each patient and their family.”
     
  • Guidelines for transgender healthcare are set by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), founded in 1979. WPATH just issued the 8th edition of its Standards of Care, 260 pages, compiled by more than 3,000 members worldwide to provide scientific and medical professional consensus about best practices care. WPATH “envisions a world wherein people of all gender identities and gender expressions have access to evidence-based health care, social services, justice, and equality.”
     
  • Gender-affirming care for minors includes social transition for children who have yet to go through puberty, including using correct pronouns, names and titles (“daughter” or “son”), as well as allowing authentic gender expression (hair, clothes, shoes, etc.). Puberty blockers can be prescribed as a child reaches puberty to pause unwanted physical effects of a puberty incongruent with one's gender identity. Research shows access to puberty blockers during adolescence is associated with a significant decrease in suicidal ideation. Doctors have used these medications safely for decades for cisgender children who experience precocious puberty.
     
  • The Journal of Adolescent Health found that gender-affirming hormone therapy resulted in lower rates of depression, suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts among older transgender and nonbinary teens.
     
  • In 2022, more than 220 bills disproportionately targeting LGBTQ youth were introduced in state legislatures to restrict access to school sports, healthcare, books and inclusive curriculum, and the bathroom. None of these bills are based in facts or medical expertise or supported by medical professionals who treat LGBTQ youth. Evidence is growing about the harm of these bills and other efforts to target trans youth:
  • 85% of transgender and nonbinary youth — and 66% of all LGBTQ youth — say recent debates about state laws restricting the rights of transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health. 
  • 52% of trans and nonbinary youth seriously considered suicide in the past year, and 1 in 5 attempted suicide.
  • 36% of LGBTQ youth reported being physically threatened or harmed due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Using a trans youth's authentic name and pronouns improves mental health and reduces suicidal ideation. 

 

CHECKLIST FOR MEDIA:

 REPORTING ON TRANSGENDER PEOPLE AND HEALTHCARE


Seek expertise over opinion and include facts from experts in transgender healthcare.

Seek quotes and background from transgender people in any story about transgender people or youth. Their lived experience is valuable to help readers and viewers understand trans people exist, live full and healthy lives, and receive healthcare that is safe and lifesaving.

Accurately report the widely-held consensus about the safety and efficacy of transgender healthcare. Avoid elevating singular voices or rare cases and concerns in equal weight to the consensus and preponderance of evidence - doing so is inaccurate storytelling.

Challenge people making negative claims about transgender healthcare to provide facts and evidence for claims. Include fact checks of quotes and claims in your reporting.

Check for and include critics’ history of advocating against LGBTQ people. The GLAAD Accountability Project has profiles of public figures and groups and their records of targeting LGBTQ people. Evidence-based healthcare is the latest target, as are youth who do not have a voice or desire to be public about their private healthcare.

Avoid “both sides” reporting. Efforts to restrict or remove evidence-based healthcare are not a “debate” or a “culture war,” they are one-sided, baseless attacks against transgender people. Recognize trans people and youth are people, not a “side,” and like all human beings, want to be themselves and be safe.

Include the benefits of evidence-based healthcare to the health and wellbeing of trans youth.

Include research on harms to vulnerable youth from efforts to take away their healthcare.

Safety and Security Considerations.  Confirm if the storyteller is comfortable using their full name, only their first name, or a pseudonym, and sharing their physical identity (i.e., would they like to be on camera or not?)  Do not expose their location; for example, film in a way that disguises the location. No addresses, street signs, or clear landmarks should be displayed in the interview. 

Informed Consent.  Be clear to transgender storytellers with the specifics of your outlet and audience. Obtain their consent to continue the interview once that information is provided.  Ask what areas of their transition story are off limits. Give them the opportunity to decide what is on record and off record.

Contact: Press@glaad.org