Jake Thomas discusses new options available to some transgender youth:
The country’s attitude toward the transgender community is shifting, with the once rarely-discussed topic moving further into mainstream conversation. The nascent acceptance of transgender people has important consequences for their medical care, and earlier this month, Oregon became the first state in the country to offer drugs that delay the onset of puberty for transgender adolescents enrolled in its Medicaid plan.
For 15 years, clinics in the U.S. and Europe that treat transgender children have prescribed these drugs to stop their bodies from maturing. The idea behind the treatment is twofold:
First, it buys patients time to make an informed decision on how and if they want to physically transition to the gender with which they identify. And second, if they do decide to go through with the transition, puberty-suppressing drugs make the process smoother. By staving off breast development, for instance, an adolescent undergoing a female-to-male transition wouldn’t have to undergo chest reconstruction surgery.
But the medication offers mental benefits as well: Teens who are already living as the gender they identify with won’t be “outed” by their bodies, and they won’t have to go through puberty for the wrong gender, which research has shown can cause depression and suicidal thoughts.