Let Iowa Trans Families Thrive

Families with a transgender child are just like every other family. Parents want their kids to grow and thrive and be themselves.

They are like the Christiasons of Cedar Falls. After years of struggling with his gender identity, their son, Ben, realized in ninth grade that he was transgender. So the Christiasons did what good parents to: They listened, they learned, and they were able to get the science-based, medically recommended gender-affirming care for their son that he needed, at the stage that he needed it.

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Unfortunately, states like Iowa are passing laws that block this. One of the worst, passed by the Iowa Legislature in March 2023, is a complete ban on gender-affirming care for anyone under the age of 18.

It bans puberty blockers, which are almost completely reversible and can buy valuable time for families who are trying to help their pre-teen kids figure out who they are and how to proceed. It bans hormone therapy, which is partially reversible, and can be a literal lifesaver for a teen who feels they are trapped in a body that does not align with who they truly are. It also bans gender-affirming surgery not because it's not safe but because politicians believe that they know better than parents, doctors, and mental health professionals what is best for each young person.

This flies in the face of a vast body of studies on transgender children, teens, and adults and contradicts completely recommended medical and psychological care for transgender teens. It should be families, in consultation with doctors and mental health professionals, who make these decisions, not politicians with an agenda.

Transgender teens who want and receive gender-affirming care as teens have better mental health. Denying teens transgender care can be devasating, and dramatically ups the risk of suicide; 56 percent of transgender youth report an actual suicide attempt. Conversely, teens who receive gender-affirming care have a 73 percent lower risk of suicide.

Instead, let's let transgender kids be who they are and support families who love and celebrate their transgender kids.

They're families like the Christiasons in Cedar Falls, the Fuquas in Ames, and the Hansons in Des Moines.

They're models of parents who didn't know a lot about being transgender, but when their child--often as early as three or four--started telling them they were transgender, they listened and learned. And they consulted with medical professionals--not politicians--to help make the best decisions for their individual child and that child's individual needs.

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