August 15, 2023
SAHM Supports Protecting Access to Gender-Affirming Clinical Care for Transgender and Nonbinary Adolescents and Young Adults
On August 15, 2023, the Journal of Adolescent Health (JAH) published an original research article online titled, “Adolescent Providers’ Experiences of Harassment related to Delivering Gender-Affirming Care.” The Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM) embraces our professional responsibility to ensure that all adolescents and young adults, including transgender and nonbinary youth, have access to health, equity, and well-being. This responsibility includes protecting access to gender-affirming clinical care for transgender and nonbinary adolescents and young adults. As stated in the recently published JAH article: “Gender affirmation refers to the social, psychological, legal, and medical affirmation of one’s gender identity and is critical to the health and well-being of transgender and non-binary adolescents.”
The JAH study explored the experiences and impacts of targeted harassment on health care professionals who provide gender-affirming care to transgender and non-binary adolescents in multiple geographic regions throughout the United States. The results showed that for the participants in this study (117 physicians, nurse practitioners, and behavioral health providers) the most common forms of harassment were threatening social media posts and phone calls to their clinics. The study describes multiple impacts of harassment on health care providers. Additionally, the study describes a concerning link between provider harassment and growing limits on access to gender-affirming clinical care for transgender and non-binary adolescents and young adults.
SAHM supports protecting access to gender-affirming clinical care for transgender and nonbinary adolescents and young adults. SAHM reaffirms its “Statement on the Politicization of Gender-Affirming Care and Threats of Violence Against Clinicians.” SAHM calls on community members, health professionals, institutional leaders, and policymakers to do all within their power to support and protect transgender and non-binary adolescents and young adults, their families, and the clinicians who serve them. Recommendations to protect access to gender-affirming clinical care for transgender and nonbinary adolescents and young adults are the following:
- Oppose restrictive laws and policies, coercive tactics, and targeted harassment campaigns that obstruct the provision of health care.
- Educate stakeholders and policymakers on the evidence supporting gender-affirming care and the centrality of adolescents and young adults and their families in making informed health decisions.
- Affirm health system-level commitments to provide health care for transgender and nonbinary adolescents and young adults by providing accurate information on gender-affirming care, using multiple platforms to battle misinformation, opposing the targeted harassment and intimidation of clinicians who provide gender-affirming care, and ensuring the safety of clinicians and clinical programs.
- Call on policymakers to enact and implement protections to safeguard the personal security and professional careers of clinicians who provide gender-affirming care.
- Engage and mobilize community members to support legal protections for access to medically necessary gender-affirming care, hold elected officials accountable for policies that are contrary to evidence-based care, and expose lawmakers’ coercive tactics forced upon clinicians, health systems, and insurers.
The Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM), founded in 1968, is a nonprofit multidisciplinary professional society committed to the promotion of health, well-being and equity for all adolescents and young adults by supporting adolescent health and medicine professionals through the advancement of clinical practice, care delivery, research, advocacy, and professional development. Through education, research, clinical services, and advocacy activities, SAHM enhances public and professional awareness of adolescent health issues among families, educators, policy makers, youth-serving organizations, students in the field as well as other health professionals around the world.