PROTECTING TRANSGENDER CHILDREN
After decades of LGBT stigma and professional invisibility, in recent years a broader conversation around gender identity has begun to emerge. Overcoming roadblocks to gender expression and gender nonconformity isn’t a mystery or an issue of choice – it’s a complex process for many who feel they live in gender dysphoria, a widely experienced condition characterised by unwanted gender transition or non-affirming internalization. In the US, for example, as many as 1 in 5 gay and bisexual teens have faced gender dysphoria.
Those experiences are under threat as legal and policy changes can hinder the need for gender transition. Article 15 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child states that, “everyone under the age of 18 years shall have the right to identify herself or himself as his or his own gender, irrespective of any sexual orientation, race, colour, sex, language, political or other opinion, or economic circumstances.”
However, it is a growing concern that discrimination and demands for mandatory transition, irrespective of gender dysphoria, will affect vulnerable young people, causing them to question their identity and prompting them to withdraw. In both the US and UK, legislation is threatening to force young people who feel they are transgender to undergo gender reassignment surgery – so severely that this can cause anxiety, depression and self-harm in young people who might otherwise find their identity safe.