Michael Thornton, a sophomore from Naperville studying digital media arts and animation, carries a transgender flag Friday, April 6, 2018, during an occupation of SIU Chancellor Carlo Montemagno’s office in Anthony Hall. The occupation followed a march through campus the previous day in protest of the proposed police academy at the Southern Illinois University Carbondale campus. (Brian Munoz | @BrianMMunoz)
Michael Thornton, a sophomore from Naperville studying digital media arts and animation, carries a transgender flag Friday, April 6, 2018, during an occupation of SIU Chancellor Carlo Montemagno’s office in Anthony Hall. The occupation followed a march through campus the previous day in protest of the proposed police academy at the Southern Illinois University Carbondale campus.

Brian Munoz | @BrianMMunoz

Letter to the editor: Don’t Be Silent, Trans Youth are Under Attack

June 16, 2022

At present, the United States is witnessing an ongoing and coordinated attack upon the rights of young transgender Americans and few people seem willing to speak up. As someone who lives my life under the mantra of Matthew 25:40, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me,” I cannot remain silent. 

Across the country, state legislatures have targeted trans children who wish to play sports. In Utah, this has gone so far as to override a governor’s veto in order to remove a single child from playing school sports with peers of their gender.

In states such as Texas, governors and their administrations have made even social affirmation of trans youth out to be child abuse and have begun the process of dividing families who support their children.

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In Arkansas (and with bills in at least 15 other states planning to follow), the legislature has banned the use of puberty blockers to force trans youth through physical changes that do not match their identity, despite research demonstrating a reduced risk of suicide, minimal to no side effects, and their use being within American Medical Association standards. 

Most recently, the state of Florida has moved to declare treatments for gender dysphoria to be “experimental” and thus seek to remove insurance and Medicaid coverage for affirming care. While this presently applies only to trans youth, the language used implies it is intended to later apply to trans adults as well.

These positions are out of touch with the medical and sociological consensus on the treatment of gender dysphoria. The American Academy of Pediatrics “recommends that youth who identify as transgender have access to comprehensive, gender-affirming, and developmentally appropriate health care that is provided in a safe and inclusive clinical space. We also recommend that playing on sports teams helps youth develop self-esteem, correlates positively with overall mental health, and appears to have a protective effect against suicide.”

Here in Illinois, our laws thankfully provide broad protections for trans youth, but multiple bills have been introduced this session and last that would attempt to bring these harmful changes to our state. Multiple current candidates for Governor have also stated they would use their executive powers to limit the rights of trans youth. These policies, if implemented in Illinois, will exacerbate our mental health crisis, and will result in an increased number of trans youth lost to suicide.

We are called to protect and uplift the downtrodden and needy. Our trans neighbors, friends, family, and loved ones need us now. Please do not be silent during these attacks.

Isaac Ludington

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