- Illustration by Lily Padula
These decisions signal an evolution in thinking about gender dysphoria—a medical condition in which patients know their gender to be other than the one they were born with. Nearly every major medical body, including the American Medical Association, has come to describe therapy, hormones, and, for some, surgery as a medically necessary step toward helping transgender individuals lead healthy and happy lives.
But the opposition is fierce—and sometimes vicious.
I recently attended an administrative hearing on removing transgender health-care exclusions in state insurance plans. A dentist sitting on a panel of health-care policy makers who will determine covered benefits asked me how gender dysphoria wasn't like "giving people who want to amputate their limbs access to amputation." I explained that gender-confirmation surgery is "reconstructive, as the end results are functional and healthy." He was not sold, although he later admitted, "The idea of it—just the idea—scares me."
He's hardly alone. Family Research Council president Tony Perkins wrote in the Christian Post this month, "Americans are free to disfigure their bodies—but they aren't free to ask taxpayers to foot the bill." He argued that while transgender people enjoy expensive cosmetic surgeries on the government's dime, veterans were dying for lack of care.
Despite what that dentist or Perkins may think, these interventions help save lives and tax dollars.