John Oliver debunks myths about gender-affirming care for transgender youths

On Sunday’s Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, the host took time to debunk misinformation about gender-affirming care for transgender youth. Misinformation has led to bans or restrictions for gender-affirming care in a handful of Republican-led states, with many more states considering such legislation.

“To hear some tell it, as soon as a child declares themselves trans, there is an immediate, irreversible surgical decision undertaken, and there just isn’t,” Oliver said, adding, “In younger children, it can mean nothing more than a social transition, like calling them by a new name, or giving them a new haircut or clothing, or providing them with psychological or behavioral support. Because, to be very clear, prepubescent children are not eligible for medical interventions.”

Oliver next addressed gender-affirming care for adolescents. Some anti-trans voices have falsely claimed that all such care is irreversible.

“At the onset of puberty, an adolescent and their family might consider puberty blockers, hormones that delay puberty,” Oliver said. “And importantly, if that treatment is suspended, then puberty will resume, meaning that this is reversible. Think of it like the pause button, the thing that you can’t do easily on the HBOMax app.”

Gender-affirming care is supported by multiple medical groups in the United States, such as the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, among others. And Oliver pointed out that despite the narrative about trans youth that some in the media push, the decision to transition is not made on a whim.

“All of this would only happen after a team of medical professionals discussed all of its benefits with their patient and their patient’s parents or guardian, all of whom would have to sign off,” Oliver said. “It is a long, involved process, even before you get to the fact that it is also incredibly expensive.”

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver airs Sundays at 11 p.m. on HBO.

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