Opinion: It’s time to give trans people respect, agency and autonomy

Transphobic bills have continued to pass through state legislatures, but American democracy should be protecting transgender people, not oppressing them.


Finley Muratova

As transphobic bills have continued to pass through state legislatures, it’s more important than ever to advocate for and protect transgender youth. (Photo by Finley Muratova)

Aarna Dixit, Staff Writer

On March 1, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott directed state officials to start handling certain medical treatments as child abuse crimes. These medical treatments include gender-affirming care for trans children and youth. As a result, parents who provide their trans children with gender-affirming care will be penalized for it and possibly jailed or separated from their children.

Many Americans pride themselves on America’s diversity and so-called progressiveness. Yet, some Americans are still being criminalized for their identities. Parents are being criminalized for assisting their children in being who they are and professionals are being discouraged from providing gender-affirming care. 

Similar bans to this one have been proposed over the past few years, with Arkansas trying to enact a ban on gender-affirming care last year, which was fortunately blocked by the federal courts. Supporters of these bans continue to exaggerate and twist the negative impacts of surgical procedures on children to fit their transphobic agendas. Gender-affirming care is safe and medically approved, yet it is being portrayed as detrimental to children’s health. But what is actually detrimental to the physical and mental health of trans youth is being denied the right to change their bodies to match their gender identity. They are trapped in a body with a gender that they don’t identify with. The American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and other medical and professional organizations have condemned these attacks on trans people, indicating that from a medical standpoint, these claims are simply not valid. 

From abortion to gender-affirming care, it’s interesting to see how government officials will take advantage of their power to control human bodies, to outlaw care that is medically approved and truly harms no one. Healthcare is a global, human right, but apparently not in America. The slogan “my body, my choice” has been used mostly for sexual violence and abortion justice advocacy, but it applies to this scenario as well. Trans youth — and subsequently their parents — deserve every right to access the healthcare they need to affirm their gender identities. It’s their body, their choice — at least it should be. 

It makes you wonder: What are government officials who pass bills such as this seeking to achieve besides hate and oppression? An individual’s access to medically approved healthcare hurts no one and only affirms gender identity. This access should be a right unrestricted by the government. Yet it’s being criminalized while many problems in American society remain ignored. 

Trans people have always been marginalized and oppressed, and modern society is no exception to this rule. Every year, there are a plethora of laws proposed and passed that infringe upon the rights of trans people. This isn’t the first time Texas’s state legislature has passed a transphobic bill. In October of 2020, Texas passed a bill that requires student athletes to only participate in interscholastic competitions on teams that correspond with their gender assigned at birth. This bill claimed that it would “further the governmental interest of ensuring that sufficient interscholastic athletic opportunities remain available for girls to remedy past discrimination on the basis of sex,” but really restricted transgender athletes from pursuing their sports.

Bodily autonomy has been infringed upon regularly in recent years. Bodily autonomy is at its core about giving people the agency to do what feels right for their body, and furthermore giving them access to resources to make such decisions. Bills like the one Texas passed prevent individuals from having control over their body, their gender identity and expression. It seems authoritarian that government officials get to mandate what medical procedures one can go through, what healthcare they can access and what gender identities they can express. 

Healthcare and the freedom to express your gender identity are fundamental human rights. Our lawmakers should be focused on creating safe spaces for trans youth and giving them the agency to access the healthcare they need and express their true gender identities. Instead, government officials threaten to displace them from their homes and families and criminalize supportive parents.

It’s time our lawmakers re-examined their priorities, and it’s up to us to hold them accountable. If you’re in one of these states passing bills that restrict access to healthcare or infringe upon basic human rights, contact your legislators, make them listen. And even if you’re not in one of these states, continue to spread awareness and advocate for trans rights in your communities. A common interpretation of America is that it is a melting pot of identities, a nation of progressivism and diversity. Yet everyday we see how identities that don’t conform to the cisgender, straight, white, male labels are oppressed and violated. It’s past time we moved toward being a society where all gender identities are respected, and trans people are truly empowered.

Views expressed in the Opinion section do not necessarily reflect those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.

Contact Aarna Dixit at [email protected].