Gender and Sexuality Column

Transgender youth deserve acknowledgement, health care

/ The Daily Orange

We’ve got Band-Aids for cuts and casts for fractures, but we still have trouble using policy to mend a broken healthcare system and properly accommodate the transgender community.

New York is already one of the few states that allows Medicaid to cover hormone therapies for adults, but the state health department has proven itself as a model for the rest of the United States by proposing that hormone therapy access be extended to trans* youth. If passed, this initiative would finally provide the younger trans* community with the access to the healthcare they deserve.

Healthcare coverage, especially for the transgender community is a need, not a luxury, and this should be recognized by the medical field across the board. With transitioning in particular, it should be noted that being trans* isn’t just something that occurs at the age of 18. In fact, some trans* individuals may feel that they were born in the conflicting body at a very early age.

Steve Wood, the director of insurance at ACR Health’s Q Center in Syracuse, highlighted the importance of providing transgender minors with the tools they need to transition seamlessly.

“It’s harder the older you get because of puberty, body changes and things like that. When you’re younger, it’s sometimes easier to do hormone therapy because you haven’t gone through those drastic body changes yet,” said Wood. “Moving forward, I think it’s important to recognize that if someone younger is identifying as transgender that they’re receiving the services they need.”

Young adults should not be forced to go through unwanted puberty and endure all of the changes that come with the gender they were assigned at birth. In same way, healthcare systems shouldn’t hinder those that come to terms with their gender identity well before they are of legal age.

Transgender activist and author Jamison Green agreed this gap in understanding leads to severe psychological damage on young trans* individuals.

“I think it will relieve tremendous pressure that young people feel in the teen years. The teen years are a very tumultuous time for anyone, especially transgender youth,” said Green. “Knowing that treatment is available and being able to access that care will save lives.”

Fully transitioning, including hormones and surgery, can run upward of $100,000 dollars, according to CNN. When hormones alone cost about $100 per month, New York state’s proposed initiative would alleviate the financial burden of this necessary step in transitioning.

This experience and the need for more adequate healthcare is best summed up by Green himself.

“By having these services available, trans youth will be able to feel that there is a future for them,” Green said. “That there is a reason to keep going. They will have a reason to live. It’s that basic.”

Regardless of age or financial standing, individuals should be allowed the opportunity to make their own medical decisions with the help of a qualified healthcare professional. But this cannot be made possible for all trans* individuals unless they receive the health care coverage they need.

Ivana Pino is a sophomore political science major. Her column appears weekly. She can be reached at ivpino@syr.edu.

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