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Taylor Johnston and Ellen Wagner make important decisions about the Post in the editors' office on the evening of Wednesday, February 5, 2020.

Editorial: House Bill 68 irresponsible to pass

Correction appended.

Content warning: this article discusses mental health issues that may be upsetting for certain readers. Read responsibly. 

For years, there has been a growing rhetoric of disinformation about the transgender community. Recently, these myths have begun to center around children and how the media, Disney, books, the green M&M, whatever, are colluding to make your child gay or transgender. 

The reality of the situation is that transgender individuals only account for 1.03% of the adult population in the U.S. and 1.8% of America’s youth.

House Bill 68 takes aim at transgender youth, an already vulnerable minority of children. The bill would ban minors from accessing gender-affirming care and prevent transgender girls from participating in girls’ and women’s sports teams. To further isolate transgender children is dangerous, as transgender children are more prone to mental health struggles and suicide in their formative years. 

Many transgender people experience gender dysphoria, or emotional distress as a result of their physical characteristics not matching that of their gender identity. Gender dysphoria in minors specifically is on the rise. In 2018, 17.5% of transgender youth experienced gender dysphoria, which rose to 20.4% in 2020. Dysphoria is overwhelming for transgender adults, which means extra care must be taken with transgender youth experiencing it. When youth and adolescents cannot access gender-affirming care, they may be at a greater risk of suicidal thoughts.

Already, transgender youth and adolescents are more than fourmore likely to attempt suicide compared to their cisgender peers. Roughly half of the 41% of LGBTQIA+ young people who have seriously considered attempting suicide are transgender or nonbinary. 

Because hormone therapy, hormone blockers and other gender-affirming care are proven to improve the mental well-being of transgender and nonbinary youth, the passage of House Bill 68 would be detrimental to these children and teens.

Even if a transgender teen or child were to survive without gender-affirming care, there are a slew of other related challenges that they will be predisposed to that will still weigh heavy on their quality of life. 

Not only are transgender children and adolescents at a greater risk of suicide but also substance abuse, risky sexual activity and eating disorders. Transgender youth specifically are fourmore likely to develop an eating disorder than their cisgender peers, with around 15% having elevated scores on the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire, which is widely used to assess eating disorder symptoms. Of the 15%, 63% reported “purposeful weight manipulation relating to affirming their gender.” 

There is a strong tie between body dissatisfaction in terms of both gender and weight in transgender youth. Among transgender girls, restricting and dieting usually centers around looking thin and having a more traditional feminine physique. Among transgender boys, a restriction is often to reduce the appearance of secondary sex characteristics such as the growth of hips and breasts, something that hormone blockers and gender-affirming care help with.

Those pushing the passage of House Bill 68 think they are protecting children, but they are doing damage on a scale that they simply cannot and do not care to comprehend. Its passage would be detrimental to the mental and physical well-being of transgender and nonbinary youth.

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