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Legislation restricting trans participation in sports would increase health morbidities among trans youth

Providers of gender-affirming care overwhelmingly oppose legislation that bans trans youth from sports participation as they cited the severe consequences to the well-being of trans youth.

Photo by Renith R from Unsplash.com

Providers of gender-affirming care overwhelmingly oppose legislation that bans trans youth from sports participation as they cited the severe consequences to the well-being of trans youth.

This is according to a study – “Pediatric Provider Perspectives on Laws and Policies Impacting Sports Participation for Transgender Youth” by Landon D. Hughes, Nadia Dowshen, Kacie M. Kidd, Don Operario, Christopher Renjilian, and Kristi E. Gamarel – that appeared in LGBT Health.

The study noted that since May 2021, numerous state legislatures in the US have introduced bills to restrict the participation of transgender and gender diverse (trans) youth in gender-segregated sports in a manner consistent with their gender identity.

So they analyzed the responses of 103 gender-affirming care providers from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Most participants identified as White (77%), cisgender women (70%), and specialized in pediatric care (52%). They found that “the most salient theme, described by nearly all participants, was that legislation banning trans youth from sports participation would lead to worsening discrimination and stigmatization. Other themes included worsening mental and physical health of trans youth, forced changes to clinical practice, politicization of trans youth, and efforts required to stop these bills.”

“All providers in this study believed that these bills should not be passed. Most providers believed that it was their duty to advocate against these bills and educate lawmakers and the public about their harmful effects,” stated the investigators, who noted that “whereas participation in organized sports can benefit physical and mental health, the providers believed that restrictive legislation would increase the number of mental and physical health morbidities among transgender youth. Specifically, providers believed these bills would increase the risks of suicide, depression, nonsuicidal self-injury, anxiety, and gender dysphoria.”

The anti-trans bills, stressed the providers, are “not founded in science”, and because of the “numerous benefits of sports participation to the well-being of youth, providers viewed these bills as an impediment to ensuring that their patients are healthy and supported in their gender identity. Findings underscore the importance of including pediatric medical experts in policy and advocacy efforts regarding gender-segregated sports participation for trans youth.”

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