|By Askini, Danielle|
Transgender Americans have won major victories in the past year as bans on coverage for gender-confirming surgeries were overturned in five states, in
But the opposition is fierce-and sometimes vicious.
I recently attended an administrative hearing on removing transgender health-care exclusions in state insurance plans. A dentist sitting on a panel of health-care policy makers who will determine covered benefits asked me how gender dysphoria wasn't like "giving people who want to amputate their limbs access to amputation." I explained that gender-confirmation surgery is "reconstructive, as the end results are functional and healthy." He was not sold, although he later admitted, "The idea of it-just the idea-scares me."
He's hardly alone.
Despite what that dentist or Perkins may think, these interventions help save lives and tax dollars.
According to a study from
Those are better rates than many other mental-health interventions. For example, 20 percent of people with untreated major depressive disorder will attempt suicide, and that drops to only roughly 8 percent even with therapy and antidepressants.
These aren't just abstract statistics for me. During my own transition as a 15-year-old in
After coming out as transgender and finally beginning to see myself in the mirror, I felt a huge sense of relief and happiness. I felt free to make close friends, as I was finally living an authentic life. I had nothing to hide. Since the late 1990s, I have worked with thousands of other transgender people as a therapist, activist, and social worker. I have seen my story repeated by countless people.
Beyond being effective, these types of interventions are also incredibly inexpensive when considering the alternatives (suicide attempts, ER visits, lifelong therapy, and antidepressants that won't get at the root problem). Every analysis of the cost, from a