The American Psychological Association (APA) is stepping up its public support for essential health care for transgender people and youth, and highlighting the spread of disinformation about the care while firmly opposing state legislation seeking to limit and ban it.
The APA’s landmark policy statement comes at a vital time as the mourning continues for Nex Benedict, a 16 year old nonbinary and transgender student who died last month after a fight in the school bathroom. State legislatures, including in Nex’s home state of Oklahoma, have passed and proposed a record number of bills banning essential health care for trans youth, banning access to the bathroom based on gender identity, banning accurate pronouns and identity documents, and access to school sports.
The APA is the leading scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. The organization’s mission is to “promote the advancement, communication, and application of psychological science and knowledge to benefit society and improve lives.” The APA’s powerful statement includes multiple points of advocacy to provide “unobstructed access to healthcare and evidence-based clinical care for transgender, gender-diverse, and nonbinary children, adolescents, and adults,” noting “recognition of gender diversity as a part of normal human diversity as well as recognition of limits in the current state of scientific knowledge.”
The provisions include:
- Opposing state bans on gender affirming care, and prioritizing human rights, social justice, and equal access to healthcare.
- Inclusive health coverage without gender- based discrimination.
- Policies to prioritize the well being and autonomy of transgender, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary individuals.
- Highlighting the significance of psychological and medical care practiced from an intersectional perspective, considering many facets such as an individual’s lived experiences and providing services that are inclusive of all racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, religious, and gender backgrounds.
- Promoting access to comprehensive, gender affirming healthcare for children, adolescents, and adults, acknowledging the positive impact of its mental health outcomes.
- Urging equitable insurance coverage for both mental health and medical health care.
The APA also “affirms the essential role and legal rights of parents and caregivers in taking action to ensure the well-being of children and adolescents while honoring their expressed gender identity.”
“We believe that access to evidence-based health care is a fundamental right for everyone, and this policy reflects our commitment to promoting social justice and equity in health care,” said APA President Cynthia de las Fuentes, PhD.
“APA also affirms the essential role and legal rights of parents and caregivers to ensure the well-being of children and adolescents while honoring their expressed gender identity, including being involved in health care decision-making, and supporting developmentally appropriate youth self-advocacy,” de las Fuentes continued.
“It sends a clear message that state bans on gender-affirming care disregard the comprehensive body of medical and psychological research supporting the positive impact of such treatments in alleviating psychological distress and improving overall well-being for transgender, gender diverse and nonbinary individuals throughout their lives.”
Every major medical association and leading world health authority supports transgender health care, across patient lifespan and professional specialties. Read statements from 30+ organizations here.