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Editorial: SB-140 would harm Georgia’s transgender children

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Editorial: SB-140 would harm Georgia’s transgender children

Lucas Hill

Editor’s note: Following the publication of this editorial, this legislation was passed and signed by Gov. Brian Kemp. For the full story, click here.

By Lucas Hill, contributor 

Today, SB140, a bill banning gender-affirming health care for Georgians under the age of 18, will be heard by the House Public Health Committee. SB 140 represents dangerous government overreach into private family medical decisions, and is unfortunately only one of approximately 400 pieces of anti-trans legislation currently being considered around the country. Although it is scary to make myself publicly vulnerable, I feel more strongly that I need to share my story, in hopes that younger trans kids in Georgia can continue to receive necessary medical care. 

I began to question my gender identity in the sixth grade. I had always been a “tomboy,” but once puberty hit and my body began to change, I realized it was more than that. I came out as a transgender man at thirteen, and the switch to the correct name and pronouns made me feel better about myself almost instantly. But there was more to it than that. Even though I cut my hair and wore a chest binder, the feeling of disconnect from my own body was still present. Strangers on the street would still take me for a girl, and the voice that I used to speak and sing was not the same as the voice inside. I began to talk to my therapist about hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – there was never a doubt in my mind that testosterone was something I wanted to take. 

My parents were apprehensive, at first; they worried, like the caring parents they are, that I would be unhappy with the changes, or that I would later come to regret my decision. They took time, as any parent faced with a major medical decision for their child would do, to research the medical standards of care, to learn about possible side effects, to speak with other parents of trans kids, to meet with my therapist; but the longer they put my transition on “pause,” the worse I felt. I finally wrote them a letter explaining what HRT would do for both my self-esteem and mental health, and it worked. My parents allowed me to begin taking testosterone supplements, and gradually, thankfully, I became the person I’d always been, and the person I was always meant to be.

There is concern around providing HRT to children under the age of 18, and I understand it. Hormone therapy is a very big step, and one that it is important to be sure about before taking. I have no regrets about making this decision, however, and neither do my parents. My voice is deep, the way I like it. I’ve lost weight and gained muscle mass quicker, and I now have to shave my face once a week. I love all of these things, for how they make me feel about myself. The physical changes in my body gained through HRT have made me more confident in myself, and as a result, have made me more successful in my daily life. I am 18 now, having been on testosterone for the past few years, and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

If I had not been able to access HRT as a minor, I know I would not feel as good about myself and my body as I currently do. I’m certain my self-confidence would not be as high, and my self-esteem would be drastically low. Hormone therapy is essentially like going through a second puberty – I was lucky to start earlier, but if I had only just started hormones as an 18-year-old, I would have to relive those changes again. Let’s be honest: nobody wants to go through puberty as a fully grown adult. And sometimes being forced to wait means a trans person can never get their body and voice to align with who they truly are inside. Sadly, some trans kids who don’t receive gender-affirming care turn to self-harm and suicide because their dysphoria is too great to bear.

So, I write this as a means of making my voice heard because if it weren’t for my access to HRT at a younger age, I would not be the confident, happy human being I am today. Although SB-140 would not interrupt my health care if it passes into law, it would harm hundreds of transgender children around Georgia who deserve to have the option to be their true, happy selves in the same way that I did. A compassionate legislative body would not seek to deny any human the right to be whole, healthy, and happy. Protecting children and saving their lives means loving them unconditionally, and supporting them in being their most authentic selves – not creating barriers to the life-affirming and life-saving medical care they may need. In the end, every family must make its own decisions, and follow its own path, and every family in Georgia must remain free to do so.

Lucas Hill is a regular contributor to Decaturish. The editorial team at Decaturish supports Lucas and agrees with this column. 

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