Trigger Warnings for transphobia and denial of medical care
I spent a lot of time in church as a teen and young adult, and I was pretty sure bearing false witness was a sin. Apparently not when it’s against trans people, or government organizations advocating the controversial position that trans people deserve medical care. The Gospel Coalition put out an article celebrating an injunction against a “regulation that would have forced doctors to perform gender transition procedures—including on children—even when it violated their conscience.”
Except, that’s not remotely what the regulation does. To start with, the author spends a lot of time talking about how horrible and dangerous it is to perform gender transition procedures on children, as if that’s a thing that’s actually done. They completely neglect to mention that the WPATH standards of care don’t allow gender transition surgery on minors. Up until the latest version, they didn’t even allow hormone blockers to delay the onset of puberty. But the Gospel Coalition would have you believe that doctors are performing genital surgery on children willy-nilly.
In the rare cases where this surgery is performed on children, it’s not due to gender dysphoria, but to intersex conditions. Genital surgery for intersex conditions is a whole other can of worms (particularly if performed cosmetically on infants), but suffice it to say that some intersex conditions are harmful and surgery is medically necessary in those cases. Denying treatment to those kids because their existence as intersex threatens your binary view of gender is sadistic.
The second crucial point is that gender confirmation surgery is a very specific specialty. No one is performing these surgeries without having deliberately chosen to go into that field, any more than random general practitioners are asked to perform brain surgery.
So, the doctors who are worried about being “forced” to participate in transition care are *not* the ones performing gender confirmation surgery. No, these are doctors who don’t want to participate in any part of a trans person’s care because they object to their being trans. Apparently, refusing to treat a broken arm because you disapprove of someone’s gender identity is a protected religious freedom.
There may also be doctors who perform procedures that could be included in transition, but that don’t want to do them for trans people. For example, a doctor who does breast augmentation and reduction might balk at surgery to enhance a trans woman’s breasts, or reduce the breasts of a trans man.
But, if TGC provided that example, it wouldn’t come with the same assumption of “protecting children” and “avoiding medically unnecessary surgeries” as trumped-up fantasies about gender confirmation surgery on children. And it might bring up inconvenient questions, like how a doctor who’s happy to perform medically unnecessary procedures on any cis woman who wants a D-cup suddenly has grave medical concerns if that woman is trans.
Another major point is that both this article and the lawsuit conflate religious objections and medical objections. There is no language whatsoever in the regulation stating that a doctor is expected to go against their own medical judgment or perform procedures where they believe the risks outweigh the benefits. And yet, the lawsuit states “Under the new Regulation, a doctor must perform these procedures even when they are contrary to the doctor’s medical judgment and could result in significant, long-term medical harm.” I can only assume that at least some of the doctors represented were proctologists, considering that they appeared to have pulled that argument out of someone’s ass.
But probably the worst thing that this ignores is that healthcare discrimination against trans people is rampant:
According to a 2010 report by Lambda Legal, 70 percent of transgender respondents had experienced serious discrimination in health care. And a 2011 study of more than 6,000 transgender people by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National LGBTQ Task Force found that 19 percent said they had been denied health care because of their transgender or gender nonconforming status. Many of them avoided the doctor’s office altogether: 28 percent had postponed getting health care when they were ill or injured, and 33 percent had delayed or not sought preventive care because of their past experiences with doctors.
Cosmopolitan has a Twitter roundup from the hashtag #transhealthfail – things like insisting on using a patient’s legal name and thus dangerously outing them as trans to the entire waiting room, or asking invasive questions about genitals to a patient who’s there for a sore throat.
Trans people *die* because medical personnel don’t want to treat them. In one case, EMS allegedly allowed a trans woman to die by refusing to treat her diabetic emergency. This was after a hospital didn’t perform the tests that would’ve found the diabetes in the first place.
This is not about trans people wanting to force unwilling doctors to perform gender confirmation surgery. Seriously? You think people who are shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for a major surgery that will affect everything from their emotional health to their sex life wants anybody working on their private parts who isn’t fully committed to doing the procedure properly and taking good care of them? Come on now. This is about trans people wanting to receive actual medical care when they’re sick or injured, without doctors having the legal right to refuse care *because* they’re trans. And the Gospel Coalition should be ashamed of pretending that it’s anything else.