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An attempt to ban gender affirming care for trans kids in New Hampshire was defeated in March. But providers are still seeing the fallout, even though the proposal failed.
It can be terrifying for these kids, who are left wondering what they would do if the health care they need was banned in their home state.
Transgender kids are paying attention, and there are studies showing that their lives are on the line. Trans youth have higher rates of suicide and depression than young people overall, and gender affirming care has been shown to improve mental health and decrease suicidal ideation.
I spoke with pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Frances Lim-Liberty and Jessica Smith, an endocrinology nurse practitioner, who work at the pediatric and adolescent transgender health program at Dartmouth Health.
The program serves around 500 young people in New England. Both were initially hesitant to talk with me because of recent media coverage of trans health. I asked them what they find troubling about that coverage, and they answered very candidly.
”The media does a good job trying to put a wedge between those of us in the medical community, and that’s one of the more frustrating parts for me,” Smith said. “There are not two sides to the story or the care that we provide. There are those of us doing this care that’s grounded in science, evidence-based, been around for a very long time, and those who do not.”
”It’s best practice medicine, and we see good outcomes,” Lim-Liberty said. “That’s what’s so frustrating: Why am I going on the defense over something we know is best practice medicine? I’m not having to defend insulin use for my kids with type one diabetes.”
Some media outlets “glamorize” a person who decided gender-affirming hormone therapy was not for them and wanted to come off it, Lim-Liberty said.
“That is rare and we tell our patients, ‘We understand there are many paths through your gender journey, and we’re here to support you through that, whether it’s with gender affirming hormone therapy or without.’”
”It’s not experimental medicine,” she noted. “It’s not new medicine. It’s the hate and the vitriol that’s new.”You can read our full interview here.