The Children's Hospital, OR Physicians Building and atrium.  - PROVIDED BY MILES ASSOCIATES

Data should be driving Oklahoma’s policies on trans youth healthcare

Dr. Natasha L. Poulopoulos

A fundamental aspect of human rights is equal access to health care, and yet transgender and gender-diverse youths and their families continuously experience discrimination through targeted political attacks.

​Recently, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed into law a measure blocking one of the state’s largest hospital systems from receiving federal funds if it continues offering gender-affirming care to transgender youths. Reportedly, the Children’s Hospital OU Health will only be permitted to receive $108 million in ARPA funds — including nearly $40 million allocated for a pediatric mental health facility — if the children’s hospital stops providing gender-affirming care.

Pediatric mental health has significantly worsened over the past decade, with suicide as the second-leading cause of death among young people within the context of a youth mental health crisis. LGBTQ+ youths, particularly transgender and gender-diverse youths, experience significantly high rates of depression, anxiety, trauma and suicidality. Some transgender and gender-diverse youths may also experience gender dysphoria — distress related to an incongruence between one’s gender identity and sex assigned at birth. Rates of self-injury and suicide are vastly higher among youths with gender dysphoria. Research has shown that gender-affirming care is psychologically beneficial, and in many cases, life-saving for transgender youths. Withholding and eradicating such care possess major negative psychological implications for youths and families, including unbearable suffering and death by suicide.

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