As confirmed by The Star Tribune last weekend, transgender teenagers in Minnesota can now depend on their state’s Medicaid program to cover transition-related medications such as hormones and puberty blockers.
Obviously, this is great news. Leading medical professionals and associations in the United States, including the American Pediatrics Association and the International Professional Association for Transgender Health, agree that the best way to relieve gender dysphoria is to allow trans adolescents access to gender-affirming care. And trans children themselves often have a very young age perception of their identity, as found last week in a recent study by Reuters.
Trans teenagers are unlikely to attempt suicide relative to their cis peers, a risk associated with families, friends, and even medical providers denying their gender identity. “Treatment delay has jeopardized children,” Dr. Kelsey Leonardsmith of the St. Paul Star Tribune Family Tree Clinic said. “I was delighted by our opportunity to get these important, life-saving drugs.” Sadly, it’s hard to get great news like Minnesota’s in the U.S.
For many trans youth, gender-affirming services can be very difficult to obtain, given fear-mongering to the contrary that such care appears to be too open to minors: Medicaid systems specifically provide only transgender medical treatment in 21 jurisdictions, according to the Movement Advancement Project, and 10 states explicitly exempt children from the use of Medicaid programs to operate. Even if trans individuals do not live in a state where gender-related service is refused under public healthcare services, they may still face gatekeeping activities from transphobic medical providers;
Like refusing hormone prescriptions or doubting a patient’s claimed gender identity or disapproving parents whose consent is usually required to obtain a prescription for hormones or puberty blockers for a child — even in Minnesota after the current Medicaid shift.
Even fewer states explicitly address the trans-health needs of children, although in certain parts of the country that is also changing. Vermont adopted a measure in October to lift age restrictions on individuals seeking Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming surgery, enabling trans adults under the age of 21 to undergo those procedures. Maybe more is going to follow suit. Gender-based drugs save lives,