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Lawmakers continue to push restrictions on transgender youth nationwide

Texas Transgender Youth
Posted at 4:00 AM, Mar 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-17 07:16:03-04

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Transgender rights are at a unique place in the U.S.

In some states, transgender Americans have more rights than those in more restrictive states. For example, insurance companies can refuse gender-affirming health care in Arkansas, while in Michigan and other places, companies cannot.

Where a person lives very much dictates what laws and opportunities are available for transgender people and their families.

So, where is this debate going? And what laws have recently changed?

IMPORTANT PERSPECTIVE

"I started my transition at the age of 13," Jasmine Tasaki said. "I always knew (I was transgender), always."

Tsaki says growing up trans in the Mississippi Delta is very different from growing up in more progressive cities, which continues to this day.

"We are fighting a different fight," Tasaki said.

NATIONWIDE DEBATE

Across the country, transgender rights and laws differ more from one state to another, impacting everything from health insurance to youth sports.

Last year, according to the progressive think tank Human Rights Campaign, 147 anti-transgender laws were proposed in 34 states. More restrictions have been proposed this year.

In Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott just lost a court battle that would have allowed social services to investigate parents for child abuse if they allow a child to transition. In Idaho, the State House just passed legislation to sentence parents to life in prison if they seek out gender-affirming health care, though Republicans in the Senate recently defeated the bill. In Florida, lawmakers have restricted teachers from discussing gender identity in some grades. In Arkansas, a law bans any transition therapy for those under 18.

Jasmine lives in Tennessee, a state that has recently restricted puberty blockers for younger people. She says if people think such ideas and proposals will stop young people from transitioning, they are wrong.

"If a child has already expressed they want to transition, the transition will ultimately happen. You may not be a part of that process. So for me, it's just about putting your child's needs and wants first," Tasaki said.

COURTS WILL RULE

Tasaki hopes that the courts will keep blocking any effort to restrict transgender rights. She believes the Supreme Court has yet to fully rule on the issue, but she expects them to soon.

"Young people will ultimately bring change and progression," Tasaki said.

But before the high court issues those rulings, counselors like Eric Cassius can provide some insight into the science and how families can address transgender rights with their children.

"We are talking about major surgeries here," Cassius said. "Be patient, don't jump in so fast."

Cassius has helped families with transgender children for decades. He says the first step is therapy for the entire family. No state is restricting that.

"It's a very difficult transition for the parents a lot of the time, just learning to accept the kid for who they are," Cassius said.

In speeches delivered in statehouses across the country, many conservatives imply the movement to ban transitions is about preventing irreversible mistakes.

Idaho State Rep. Bruce Skaug, a Republican, is trying to pass restrictions on gender-affirming care.

"This is about protecting children, which is a legitimate state interest," Skaug said during a recent floor debate.

As for Jasmine Tasaki, she understands it is a tough debate.

"If my child wanted to transition, it would scare me just as bad," Tasaki said. "Celebrate that your child is discovering who they are."