EDITORIAL: Colorado attempt to outlaw gender-affirming medicine is Capitol malpractice

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Dex Rumsey, 15, is photographed with his mother Robyn Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, in Roy, Utah. Dex Rumsey, 15, of Roy, Utah, came out as transgender at age 12. In consultation with a counselor and doctors, he gradually began wearing short hair and boy’s clothes, then began using puberty blockers and eventually testosterone. His parents say he’s gone from a shy, withdrawn child to a happy, thriving kid. He scared he could become depressed and suicidal again a ban on hormone therapy and sex-reassignment surgery for minors were to pass. A similar ban is being proposed in the Colorado Legislature this term. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

For a group of state lawmakers who continually profess that sex, sexuality, sex education and sexual preference are private matters — especially when those issues involve children — they spend a great deal of time keeping those topics very public.

This year, conservative Republicans in the state House are asking fellow lawmakers to intervene in the thorny issue of transgender children and teenagers.

What they’re proposing is as dangerous and unnecessary as a host of past attempts to insert the government, the law and personal morals into what is an issue for science and medical experts.

Colorado Springs Republican Shane Sandridge is chief sponsor of House Bill 1114, dubbed “Protect Minors From Mutilation And Sterilization.” It’s a sensational title that has nothing to do with protecting children nor preventing mutilations.

Fellow House sponsors include Rod Bockenfeld, Stephen Humphrey, Patrick Neville, Lori Saine, Matt Soper and Dave Williams.

What Sandridge and other sponsors seek to do is make it illegal for medical doctors and other professionals to treat children trying to sort through a condition called gender dysphoria. Simply put, the well-documented condition affects children of all ages who are, for whatever reason, troubled by their “assigned” sex. The condition has nothing to do with children who model the opposite sex. It’s about people who focus on their given biological sex assignment, and are consistently concerned by it.

It’s a medical and psychological issue, not a moral or political one.

Currently, the esteemed American Academy of Pediatricians recognizes that, while it’s relatively rare, there are many children suffering from gender dysphoria, and there are sound, successful, medical treatments available.

Pediatricians understand the sensitive nature of the issue and have offered numerous guidelines for parents and physicians.

They recognize that gender dysphoria, unaddressed or wrongly addressed, can lead to myriad psychological problems, including an increased risk of suicide.

“We encourage families, schools and communities to value every child for who they are in the present, even at a young age,” Cora Breuner, MD, chairperson for the AAP Committee on Adolescence, said in a 2018 statement on gender dysphoria. “As pediatricians and parents, we also appreciate how challenging, and at times confusing, it can be for family members to realize their child’s experience and feelings.”

Pediatricians recommend patience, respect and sound gender-affirming treatment.

What Sandridge and a handful of fellow lawmakers are recommending is outlawing the very treatment these children are in critical need of.

The ability to use hormone suppression to stall sexual development gives children and their families time to make serious decisions about further, irreversible treatments. Making that medically approved and sound hormone treatment illegal is an alarming, disturbing political intervention in medical privacy and counter to sound science.

Sandridge’s bill is based on fear, pseudo-science and a misguided compulsion to intervene in the most private and personal parts of a person’s life.

Colorado residents need to beware of an effort to trick the public into thinking there is a scientific or medical resistance to gender affirmation and medical treatments for it.

Other opponents have cited public comment from the “American College of Pediatricians,” which has been debunked as a group of anti-gay activists promoting baseless claims against current science on a front of sexuality issues. The group was first made prominent on a Glenn Beck TV show in 2016.

The faux-science banter, like the basis for this measure, is dangerously fraudulent.

The best way to curtail bills like this one, which seek to legitimize arguments for political causes affecting sexuality, and have no basis in fact, is to snuff them quickly and publicly.

State measures seeking to limit sex education, limit the rights of homosexuals, limit the rights of people who reject or are undermined about their gender, do grave damage without being passed into law. They wrongly make it seem as if there are possibly differences of opinion about what are purely matters of science, medicine, Constitutional and medical rights.

Members of the state House should make fast work of killing this measure and ensuring the public knows why.