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Transgender people have been struggling for decades to receive the recognition and respect they deserve in terms of equity in healthcare, education, and the workplace. Taking the plunge to identify as something that sadly comes with an air of negativity at times can be daunting and is a reason to respect those who try as they are prioritizing their self-acceptance first over others’ opinions which is often an uncomfortable position. Lawmakers in each state as a result continue to push their own agendas for political traction and impose restrictions on people who were already struggling to receive the aid they need.
This past month, Arkansas became the first state to sanction a bill that prohibits doctors from dispensing gender-affirming care to transgender youth. The bill, HB 1570, also known as the “Save the Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act”, denies trans youth access to healthcare and insurance coverage for gender-affirming services. These services include hormone treatment or surgery for minors as well as rendering doctors unable to refer minors to other avenues of treatment.
The bill currently awaits Governor Asa Hutchinson’s signature or veto depending on which side he stands on. If passed, it would be the first in the nation to target transgender healthcare and would take effect as soon as this summer. The irony of the SAFE Act is that it doesn’t keep transgender youths safe. Studies show that children without gender-affirming care fall into greater rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide than transgender youth who did receive support through doctors and familial care.
The bill contains a clear filter of discrimination and would bring about more harm than good in terms of impact on youth. While it might satisfy a demographic of people who think children and youth should remain sheltered or without aid in these areas, this bill negatively impacts an unrecognized proportion of individuals who might be further disenfranchised from pursuing their true identity as a result of social stigma in the region. It is better to offer support to our citizens and youth as opposed to denying them the ability to find it on their own.
As a race, it is our job to help raise others as we ascend the ladder of life. Helping someone doesn’t have to mean that you support every facet of their beliefs regardless of the impact it has on your own. Help can come in the form of simply allowing someone to act and be as they please without the need for outside opinions or judgment. We can all coexist in a functioning society where opinions and people differ (as they should), as long as individual growth and success are our primary focus. If we focus on individual excellence, collective greatness is only inevitable.
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