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Most Who Begin Gender-Affirming Care as Youth Continue: Study

A new study out of the Netherlands counters the right-wing argument that people regret initiating such care.

A new study has found that most people who initiate gender-affirming treatment in their youth continue it as adults — undermining the argument by right-wingers that transgender people are likely to regret such treatment and even detransition, and that young people are not ready to make decisions about gender transition procedures, even though they do so in consultation with parents and doctors.

The study, from Amsterdam University Medical Center in the Netherlands, looked at 720 people who had been treated with puberty blockers and hormones at the center as adolescents and whether they continued with gender-affirming care.

“Most participants who started gender-affirming hormones in adolescence continued this treatment into adulthood,” says a summary of the study, which was published online Thursday by The Lancet. “The continuation of treatment is reassuring considering the worries that people who started treatment in adolescence might discontinue gender-affirming treatment.” “Most,” in this case, was 98 percent.

“To our knowledge, this study is the first to assess continuation of gender-affirming hormones in a large group of transgender individuals who started medical treatment with puberty suppression in adolescence,” the report notes.

“The key message [of the study] is that the majority of people who went through a thorough diagnostic evaluation prior to starting treatment continued gender-affirming hormones at follow-up,” Dr. Marianne van der Loos, a physician at Amsterdam UMC who coauthored the study, told The Daily Beast. “This is reassuring regarding the recent increased public concern about regret of transition.”

Gender-affirming care for youth is under attack from conservative politicians in the U.S. and elsewhere. Alabama and Arkansas have outlawed the provision of such care to minors, with the Alabama law carrying criminal penalties; both states’ laws are blocked while court cases against them proceed. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered that parents who allow their children to receive this care be investigated for child abuse; these investigations are also on hold because of a court case.

The University of Oklahoma Medical Center and its Children’s Hospital have ceased providing gender-affirming care to young people because of a new state law that made that a condition of the institution receiving federal funds under the American Rescue Plan Act. Florida is seeking to ban gender-affirming care for youth and has already banned Medicaid funding for this care, whether for adolescents or adults.

And U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a far-right Republican known for her outrageous statements and embrace of conspiracy theories, has introduced legislation that would make it a felony to provide gender-confirmation procedures to minors.

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Trudy Ring