May is mental health awareness month.  This year I want to explain why some states are banning Gender Affirming Care (GAC) and expose the wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing scam called Gender Explorative Therapy (GET).

To be clear from the get-go, GAC is a legitimate treatment for gender dysphoric young folk . GET is a religiously backed hoax which ignores medical science and is harmful to transgendered non-conforming (TGNC) youth .     

THE ISSUE   Under the misleading banner of protecting children, a number of conservative state legislatures have chosen to pass laws which  follow religious dogma rather than science. 

Opponents of GAC want it banned because they believe  gender dysphoric children, i.e. kids whose gender identity conflicts with the gender which was assigned at birth, is simply a transient emotional confusion and is not a real medical condition.  Thus, they view  the medical aspect of GAC such as puberty blocking drugs,  as not only unnecessary but also harmful.

In fact, the  effort to interfere with necessary medical treatment poses a real threat to the health and well being of gender dysphoric youngsters.

(Here is a link which lists the large number of medical/ professional organizations  which oppose both the laws banning GAC and GEC.

Even worse, the number of states banning GAC is growing. Here is a map which  shows states that are considering such legislation.

THE HISTORY  It is important to remember that there is nothing new about religious/political attempts to undermine statistics and medical science especially when it involves sex.  In the 70’s comprehensive and honest sex education came under attack falsely claiming that it increased sexual activity in teens.  In the 80’s anti-abortion groups falsely claimed that abortions caused breast cancer and depression.  In the 90s gays were deceiveed that there was a therapy to make them straight.  White House Supports Ban on “Conversion Therapy” for Gay and Transgender Youth | Pastoral Counseling Syracuse NY (    

Now the same dishonest ploy is employed to abuse trans. and to deny the reality of gender diversity .   

THE DECEPTION  Conservatives have deceptively promoted Gender Explorative Therapy (GET) as a legitimate alternative to GAC. The Gender Exploratory Therapy website is dishonest and does not reveal its anti-trans bias. 

It falsely claims to “provide thoughtful care without pushing an ideological or political agenda.” which is the very thing that it does.  The innocuously sounding title, Gender Explorative Therapy, is the way to hide its true agenda. ( Remember when anti-abortion groups provided anti-abortion counseling in “crisis pregnancy centers” ?)–jgT9tyAgpWoKHMzDDpg5abkafJiiqr1acFtUIqkl7LOwUQWEwpYMNE  .

The  big lie of GET is that says that it is objective and neutral in helping a gender dysphoric client, but it is not. It’s goal is to convince gender dysphoric children that their feelings about their gender identity are mistaken and wrong.–svybjCDh-Hvbs

It needs to be emphasized that delaying necessary medical treatment for trans endangers their health and welfare.   .

(Opponents of GAC will argue that medical treatment is not needed because very few children report gender dysphoria and of  those who do, 80%  “grow out of it”.  This belief  was  based on the roundly debunked Steemsma study from 2011.  It had many methodological flaws and was conducted by a researcher who was open hostile to trans people.   

THE FACTS ABOUT GENDER DYSPHORIA  To repeat, gender dysphoria is a real condition and is not simply a state of confusion.,that%20they%20express%20their%20gender.  Rather than rare,  the number of children expressing gender dysphoria has continued to dramatically increase over the past few year as public awareness has risen and children are less afraid to speak the truth about their gender identity.  . 

Although denied by conservatives, the actual science shows that most children who are accurately diagnosed with gender dysphoria go on to be trans individuals in adulthood.

This importance of GAC is that it provides  reassurance and affirmation of the child’s personal awareness. Gender dysphoric children need to know that they are not crazy. 

Early affirmation is needed to prevent culturally imposed negative feelings from progressing to depression or suicide.  Or, as HHS puts it, “For transgender and nonbinary children and adolescents, early gender-affirming  care is crucial to overall health and well-being … Delaying care can exacerbate stressors and health problems for kids.”

Understandably, having a child report that they feel that they are in the wrong body is a terrible shock for any parent to hear . That said, denial or turning to GET are not good options.

I believe that it is important to understand that this controversy exposes a larger issue than gender dysphoria. Trusting science and the health care professions is ultimately what is at stake.

Given the far-reaching implications of this fight, rational people of good will must not only oppose political interference with medical practice but also stand up against religiously motivated hysteria. We must choose inclusiveness over bigotry and  science over ignorance.

If you have any questions about gender dysphoria  please contact a licensed professional and get the facts. 

Rev. Michael Heath, LMHC, Fellow AAPC   Fayetteville NY      5 16 2023