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The ban on treatment creates uncertainty for trans youth and families

SMALL ROCK, Arch. (AP) – Eight months ago, after receiving hormone therapy, Dylan Brandt felt insecure and out of place. Then the 15-year-old transgender boy started taking testosterone in August.

Her mood improved, և her mother said she was becoming more extraordinary.

But in the coming months, Dylan and his family will face difficult choices. His native state, Arkansas, passed a law banning sex therapy for minors, the first state.

“The thought of going back to where I was before is just disastrous, because it will bring me back to everything,” said Dylan, who lives in Greenwood, near the Oklahoma border. “I do not want to return.”

As long as opponents are unable to block the lawsuit, the Arkansas ban will take effect later this summer. The event prohibits physicians from providing gender-sensitive hormone therapy, blocking puberty or surgery to anyone under the age of 18 or referring them to other physicians providing that care.

It has already created confusion, sadness and pain for hundreds of transgender young people, as well as their families and health care providers. Other states that discuss similar barriers are anticipating the difficult choices that other families across the country may face.

“My families are in a panic, asking which state they should move to, saying their child is threatening to commit suicide,” said Dr. Michelle Hutchison, who runs the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Clinic, which serves about 200 families. dozens more waiting lists. “They want to know what to do next, we do not have a clear answer for them.”

Hutchison Clinic is the largest provider of hormone therapy and other medical care to transgender youth in the state. In Arkansas, underage sex is not approved for surgery.

After the bill was approved, four young people in the Hutchison program attempted suicide, he said. Other patients called the clinic to ask if they would be able to get their medicine on the black market if the ban went into effect.

“My fear is that it will happen,” he said. “They are going to find a way to get them, it will be dangerous because they will not be controlled for side effects.”

Those concerns prompted Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a social conservative who has signed other measures restricting transgender rights, to veto a ban on treatment. Hutchinson noted that the bill has gone too far, especially since it will not free young people who are already receiving care.

“If this bill is passed, what will happen to the young people who are currently receiving treatment?” Hutchinson told reporters when he vetoed the event. “It hurts my heart to think about it.”

The Republican majority in the House easily overcame Hutchinson’s veto, and supporters of the ban said transgender youth should wait until the age of 18 to make such a decision. Some compared the ban to other minors, such as smoking or drinking.

“We’ve all done things under the age of 18 that we probably shouldn’t have done. The children of Arkansas deserve protection,” said Robin Lundstrականm, a Republican who was banned during the House debate. on it last month.

But such comments, say the families of trans young people, health professionals, give the false impression that these treatments are available in a short time, with little thought.

Even before they can start treatment, transgender young people need months, if not years, of counseling and therapy to make sure they make the right decision. They also undergo laboratory work in advance and are regularly monitored by doctors.

“It is not done lightly by a patient or a parent,” said Dr. Stephanie Hoon, a Fayetteville doctor who provides hormone therapy to about 10 to 15 young trans people. “It is not allowed by the supplier.”

Many medical groups, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, oppose the ban, and experts say treatment is safe if done properly.

Puberty blockers, which delay the physical changes caused by puberty, are considered reversible. Hormone therapy, which can help transgender people align their bodies with their gender identity, can have more lasting results, such as giving transgender men facial hair a deeper voice.

It took two years for Andrew Bostad to become transgender before he began hormone therapy. The 15-year-old, who lives in Bauxite, central Arkansas, described his life before treatment as if he were living in a suffocating cloud.

“I used to be very isolated, angry with the world in general. “I was just disconnected from everyone,” Bostad said. “When I started testosterone, I was able to live my life, just move on with who I was supposed to be all my adult life.”

Due to the uncertainty of transgender youth, other restrictions on transgender youth in Arkansas this year are being complicated by և Progress bills still in the legislature.

A law signed by Hutchinson to transgender girls, members of women’s sports teams that match their gender identity. One allows doctors to refuse treatment because of moral or religious objections.

Arkansas lawmakers are debating a “bathroom bill” aimed at preventing transgender people from using public restrooms that match their gender identity. Another bill would allow teachers to use the former names and genders of transgender students, which opponents say robs them of their identities and could increase the already increased risk of violence against transgender youth. Lawmakers are also considering extending the ban on treatment to include criminal penalties for violators.

Similar treatment bans have been proposed in at least 20 states in Arkansas. Some of the events failed, but they were approved by the Montana House of Representatives and the Alabama Senate. A number of bills are expected in Texas, including one that effectively classifies targeted treatments as child abuse, subjecting parents to criminal prosecution.

Other states are also considering banning transgender athletes, such as in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee this year. Another ban was sent to the governor of North Dakota last week.

For many families, the cost of uprooting Arkansas is too high. But it would also be expensive to regularly travel and travel through public lines for doctor’s prescriptions, including patrols in neighboring states, which also discuss treatment restrictions.

“You mostly hit these people when they fall,” he said. “To begin with, they have very few resources. You will now have to make a choice between rent and their child’s life.”

Dylan’s mother, Annana, said ending her treatment was not a viable option. Although he hopes the law will not work, he is already considering moving.

Bostad and his mother say they are looking for other sources of treatment outside of Arkansas, saying they could not afford to leave. But even if they could, they are determined to stay in Arkansas, despite the ban and other restrictions.

“We can’t let them get what they want,” said Andrew’s mother, Brandi Evans. “I have always been a man of resistance to bullies. This is great, so I refuse to go down without a fight.”

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Kirey reports from New York.

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