Devastating impact of trans healthcare bans confirmed by spate of teen suicide attempts

Lily Wakefield
·2-min read

A doctor has reported a spike in trans teenagers attempting suicide in Arkansas after lawmakers passed a cruel ban on gender-affirming healthcare.

In March, Arkansas became the first US state to ban medical professionals from providing gender-affirming healthcare to trans minors, although other states have bills pending which would do the same.

The ban, which has been described as “the single most extreme anti-trans law to ever pass through a state legislature”, is set to take effect this summer.

Dr Michele Hutchison, who runs the Gender Spectrum Clinic at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, told the Associated Press: “My families are in a state of panic, asking what state should they move to, saying their child is threatening to kill themselves.

“They want to know what they should do next, and we don’t have a clear answer for them.”

Although Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson tried to veto the bill, he was overruled by the Republican majority state legislature.

During the two weeks since then, Dr Hutchison has seen four of her young trans patients attempt suicide.

Others have called her clinic to ask if there will be a way for them to still access medications like puberty blockers on the black market.

She said: “My fear is that’s going to happen. They’re going to find a way to get them, and it’s going to be dangerous because they won’t be monitored for side effects.”

The Arkansas ban provides no exemption for teens already receiving gender-affirming care, leaving the families of trans kids desperate.

Some are considering moving out of state, while others who can’t afford to leave are trying to work out how to cross state lines to access expensive medication and care.

Fayetteville doctor Stephanie Ho said: “You’re basically kicking these people when they’re down.

“They have very little resources to begin with and now you’re gong to make them choose between rent and their child’s life.”

Research shows that gender-affirming healthcare, including medication like puberty blockers, can literally save the lives of trans kids.

A study last year showed that access to puberty blockers for a trans teen who wants them reduces their likelihood of trying to die by suicide in both the short and long term, as well as significantly reducing their likelihood of experiencing mental-health problems.

If you are struggling with your mental health and are based in the US, you can contact The Trevor Project Lifeline for free on 1-866-488-7386 (open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

In the UK, you can call the Samaritans for free on 116 123 (open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) or call the LGBT Foundation helpline on 0345 3 30 30 30 (open Monday to Friday between 10am and 6pm).