The American Medical Association is joining the fight against harmful legislation that is currently circulating throughout the country in an effort to ban medical treatment for transgender youths. In an open letter Monday to the National Governors Association, American Medical Association CEO, James Madara, came to the defense of trans kids, citing evidence that trans and nonbinary gender identities are “normal variations of human identity and expression.” He went on to state that decisions about care belong in the hands of healthcare providers and the patient’s families, not lawmakers.

“As with all medical interventions, physicians are guided by their ethical duty to act in the best interest of their patients and must tailor recommendations about specific interventions and the timing of those interventions to each patient’s unique circumstances. Such decisions must be sensitive to the child’s clinical situation, nurture the child’s short and long-term development, and balance the need to preserve the child’s opportunity to make important life choices autonomously in the future,” Madara wrote.

Madara cited studies from the past couple of decades that tie gender-affirming care for children to a decrease in depression, anxiety, and suicide attempts. He said it was inappropriate for any state to limit options for healthcare provides and families.

This comes on the heels of Arkansas becoming the first state to ban transition-related care for trans youth, when the GOP-controlled state Legislature overrode a veto by Gov. Asa Hutchison, a Republican. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, at least 14 other states are currently considering similar legislation.

Madara closed by stating, “Transgender children, like all children, have the best chance to thrive when they are supported and can obtain the health care they need. It is imperative that transgender minors be given the opportunity to explore their gender identity under the safe and supportive care of a physician.”

The AMA joins other health care associations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association, in recognizing the medical necessity of transition-related care. The AMA has also been a big advocate for insurance coverage for transition-related services, as well as opposing conversion therapy for gender identity or sexual orientation.

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