Doctors treating trans children fear for their own lives, reveals a new report.
They are concerned for their safety and their ability to provide care to transgender and gender-diverse teenagers amid political divides over gender-affirming care, according to a new paper published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society.
Pediatric endocrinologists specialize in the care of children and adolescents with disorders related to hormones and the glands that produce them, such as diabetes and disorders of growth, thyroid or puberty.
Some pediatric endocrinologists also provide gender-affirming care as part of their medical practice.
Official figures show that among 13 to 17-year-olds in the United States, 1.4 percent identify as transgender, and many of them are seeking gender-affirming care.
The Endocrine Society’s Clinical Practice Guideline recommends mental health treatment as the first course of action and the use of puberty-delaying medications – known as “puberty blockers” – and gender-affirming hormone therapy, when appropriate, in adolescents who are transgender or gender diverse.
The Society says gender-affirming care is considered the standard of care by all major medical organizations and has been shown to improve mental health outcomes and lower the risk of suicide in transgender youth.
However, legislation aiming to ban gender-affirming care has been proposed in 28 American states and passed in 20 of them.
Moves to ban gender-affirming care have led to widespread misinformation, online harassment, and even bomb threats targeting hospitals and doctors, according to a Human Rights Campaign report.
Last year, the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Children’s Hospital Association called on the Department of Justice to investigate rising threats of violence against gender-affirming care providers.
Study author Doctor Stephanie Roberts said: “Our study shows pediatric endocrinologists in states with transgender health bans are most concerned about threats to their personal safety and the impact of these laws on their medical practice.
“The increasing number of bans on gender-affirming care in the US and the negative impact on pediatric endocrinologists may lead to areas in the country without access to pediatric endocrine care.
“This includes for access to treatment of other disorders we have expertise in besides gender-affirming care such as type 1 diabetes or adrenal insufficiency, both of which can be life-threatening conditions.”
The research team surveyed 223 pediatric endocrinologists to assess how transgender health bans are affecting their practices and identify their top concerns.
Of the pediatric endocrinologists surveyed, 56 percent were currently providing gender-affirming care, while 46 percent practiced in a state where anti-trans legislation had been proposed or passed between January 2021 and June last year.
Providers practicing in states with transgender health bans reported concerns about pressures within their hospitals and medical centers that would limit their ability to provide care, threats to their personal safety and the safety of their patients, concerns about legal action being taken against them, and concerns about their careers.
Dr Roberts, of Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said: “The major themes were safety concerns and the impact of laws on medical practice.”
She added: “Our work reinforces why efforts to limit access to medically necessary care for transgender youth need to be opposed.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker