The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the education arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, has released a new report about the threats and harassment targeting health care providers and systems for offering gender-affirming care. The report includes a video produced by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) that features Dr. Angela Kade Goepferd (they/she), chief education officer and medical director of the Gender Health program at Children’s Minnesota, discussing the attacks on providers, including themselves.
“You don’t go into pediatrics expecting to be attacked for the care that you provide,” said Dr. Goepferd.
In the video, Dr. Goepferd describes gender-affirming care as providing a supportive environment for kids and families to ask questions to health care professionals who specialize in the care of transgender and gender-diverse youth. Questions can range from how to address bullying in school to how parents or caregivers can support their child who may be experimenting with their gender expression. Dr. Goepferd says the majority of gender-affirming care to youth is about having these open and supportive conversations.
“Kids and families deserve some place to go to get their questions answered. If my child had diabetes or cancer or asthma, I deserve to be able to go to an asthma specialist to find out what things we can do to make it better [and] what things might make it worse. And if you have a child who’s transgender, you deserve that same thing,” said Dr. Goepferd.
The HRC Foundation report, Online Harassment, Offline Violence: Unchecked Harassment of Gender-Affirming Care Providers and Children’s Hospitals on Social Media, and its Offline Violent Consequences, describes how anti-equality, online extremists are leading a proactive and coordinated campaign of hate against hospitals and medical providers who offer gender-affirming care. Dr. Goepferd says not only have they experienced harassment, but the families they care for fear they could be targeted as well.
The medical and mental health care provided to transgender and gender diverse youth is well-supported by scientific research and is endorsed by every major medical society in the United States. In addition, studies show that for young people who identify as transgender, gender-affirming care can decrease emotional distress, and has positive effects on overall well-being while reducing thoughts of suicide.