Two Medical Treatments, Alike In Dignity

In my medical career, I performed dozens of procedures on minors {1} that permanently altered their hormones.

Most of the minors I personally treated were teenagers, but there were a few who were just on the cusp of puberty. The procedure resulted in lifelong physical changes in their bodies, and in some cases, required those minors to take medications for the rest of their lives. There is a risk that it could cause serious health problems (although there is conflicting research) later in life. Sometimes the procedure was done before surgery, sometimes after. Sometimes surgery was not involved. While at least two doctors were involved, as well as blood tests and parental consent, sometimes the procedures I did were performed pretty quickly after diagnosis.

I was performing thyroid ablations with radioactive iodine to treat medical conditions including hyperthyroidism and thyroid cancer.

But that first paragraph could also describe gender-affirming care {2}.

Both medical procedures are supervised by physicians {3}, require consultation and labwork beforehand, and permanently change the minor’s hormones and development.

Both types of medical procedures are to correct a hormonal imbalance that causes harm to the minor.

Like the thyroid therapies that I performed, gender-affirming care is to correct a medical problem — that the child is assigned a gender that does not apply to them. That leads to demonstrable harm to the child, which multiple studies demonstrate is reduced after gender-affirming care.

While there are debates to be had about parental consent in withholding needed medical care (a subject that already has large grey areas), those arguments should apply equally to procedures like the thyroid therapies I used to perform as they do to gender-affirming care.

Those who work to deny gender-affirming care — but not other medical care — for children are showing that they care more about imposing their own personal beliefs on others than the suffering of children.

Blessed be the merciful, indeed.

{1} A "minor" refers to a person under the age of 18 or 21 in the US, depending on the context. However, some states consider those over 16 or 17 as "non-minor children" for medical reasons, and "are often considered as having the capacity to understand the information provided by a physician and make the appropriate decisions for their own lives."
{2} Which is a broad term that can, but does not necessarily, include everything from therapy to hormone treatments to surgery.
{3} For what it’s worth, it can take fewer physicians to sign off on getting your thyroid blasted with radiation than it is to get, say, hormone therapy. One parent of a minor getting hormone therapy described the screening process as "the most thorough medical experience" they’ve ever seen.

Featured Image by fernando zhiminaicela from Pixabay