How do gender care bans affect health? Markey bill seeks research on anti-trans laws

Staff Report

Published: 06-26-2023 4:27 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Sen. Edward Markey D-Mass., is seeking $25 million annually over five years for the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research barriers to gender-affirming care and the impact of those barriers on health.

Transgender people are experiencing escalating attacks by lawmakers around the country that aim to prohibit access to medically necessary care and allow for discrimination against transgender and nonbinary people, according to Markey, who has filed legislation that would establish funding for the research.

Since January, Markey said, there have been more than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ state bills introduced across the nation, many of which include bans on gender-affirming care, and 20 states have laws or policies banning gender-affirming care for youth.

“Trans health is health, and health care is a human right,” Markey said. “We have a moral obligation to protect, defend, and expand the fundamental right for transgender and nonbinary people to get the care they need despite the tremendous legal, financial, and social barriers they too often face when accessing their health care.

“The Gender Affirming CARE (Care Access Research for Equity) Act will help us better understand all of the factors keeping people from essential medical care so we can dismantle these obstacles and light the path forward.”

Co-sponsors include Sens. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Peter Welch, D-Vt.

The legislation would build on the promises in the Trans Bill of Rights, sponsored by Markey and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., a resolution calling on the federal government to protect and codify the rights of transgender and nonbinary people, as well as ensure that trans people have access to gender-affirming care.

Advocacy groups such as the National Center for Transgender Equality, Human Rights Campaign and Planned Parenthood Federation of America have endorsed the bill.

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“The Gender Affirming CARE Act introduced today by Senator Ed Markey is not just a bill; it is a lifeline,” Dallas Ducar, president and CEO of Transhealth, said in a statement. Transhealth serves patients across the region from its Northampton clinic.

“By funding crucial research on the barriers faced by transgender and gender-diverse people in accessing the health care they need and deserve, this bill makes powerful strides towards achieving equitable, accessible, and affirming care for all,” Ducar said.