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Gender Affirming Care: Two Sides of the Same Coin?

Gender is a wide and complex topic, especially for those who diverge from the classic gender binary system that society upholds. An example of people who have been largely persecuted by this standard of society is transgender people. Especially in the USA, where this year a record-breaking 417 anti-LGBTQ+ legislations have been introduced, many of which affect the health care and civil rights of transgender people. (CNN Politics) It denies them access to life-saving gender-affirming care.

As defined by the World Health Organisation, gender-affirming is health care that ‘supports and affirms an individual’s gender identity’. This is usually seen in the context of the transgender perspective in terms of aiding those in presenting as the gender they identify as, which can include gender reassignment surgery, hormone therapy and other physical and psychological interventions that improve their quality of life and ability to connect with their gender.

At least 10% of US states have increased the age to access gender-affirming care for transgender people from anywhere between 21-26, and any person treated in these states below this age can be charged with a felony of 'gender disfigurement '. This creates a further taboo around transgender people in the USA, as discriminatory legislative terms such as ‘genital mutilation’ and ‘gender disfigurement’ only fuel the further propagation of hatred and fear of the ‘transgender agenda’ as coined by conservatives. This rings a bell not too dissimilar to the panic that was created around gay people when it was fully illegal to identify as such, where people would say it was a ploy to corrupt the youth. A similar tone is being harped in the transgender debate in America too, as stated above, the rise in age for gender-affirming care confirms this ideation, however, the American Academy of Paediatrics clearly states that physical gender-affirming care such as surgery and hormone therapy is seldom offered to those under the age of 18. They state that the focus is more on opening up a conversation and understanding the topic of gender identity in an age-appropriate manner so that “emotions, questions, and concerns can be explored”.

To conclude this discussion it is interesting to note that although most of the conversation around gender-affirming care is focused on the transgender community, it is something that isn’t exclusive to this group. Cisgendered people have access to gender-affirming care all the time without giving it a second thought because it is seen as their right to do so, much as it should be the same for transgender people. Examples of gender-affirming care for cis women include hair removal procedures and hormone therapies (to aid those with PCOS or fertility issues). Although the first example is more superficial, they are both clear indicators of women wanting to connect to their perceived womanhood. Examples for cis men include hormone injections such as steroids to gain muscle, and Viagra, again both of which aid men in connecting to their manhood. After considering this, it is clear that gender-affirming care is two sides of the same coin, how come legislators can’t see things the same way?


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