NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A transgender man who began transitioning medically and socially before he turned 18 says his medical treatment saved his life. However, he fears stories like his could be illegal if transgender health care legislation comes to fruition.
The debate over health care for transgender youth became a prominent topic among lawmakers this weekend when a conservative commentator posted a series of tweets On Tuesday, he accused Vanderbilt University Medical Center of opening its transgender clinic as a profit-making scheme.
“We’re still in the process of looking at options as to what the legislation might look like,” said Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin), “We certainly want to talk to health care providers, we want to talk to people facing such problems. We want contributions.”
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Henry Seaton is a trans man who hopes Leader Johnson and others will take the time to listen to his and other trans people’s stories about how gender-affirming treatment can save lives.
“It can be devastating especially when the people around you aren’t able to see you for who you are,” Seaton said.
Seaton, who is from Hendersonville and currently lives and works in Nashville, began transitioning when he was 14 socially and 17 medically when he started taking testosterone. He says this decision changed his life for the better.
“I didn’t know I would pass the age of 18. When I started taking testosterone, everything clicked,” he said.
Not only did Seaton turn 18, but he did the work he’s passionate about as an LGBTQ organizer for the ACLU of Tennessee. But he said that while taking testosterone and transitioning made him feel more like himself, it also caused a bout of bullying.
“I had one teacher call my mom at 10pm at night telling her how disgusting it was for her to let me be a man at school and be who I am,” he recalled.
He explained that the decision to start taking testosterone was not made “willy-nilly”.
However, some lawmakers still believe that this decision can wait until a child becomes an adult.
“Why is it so important to do something that is so potentially harmful, irreversible, potentially mutilating, before the age of 18,” Johnson asked.
In response to this question, Seaton explained that his decision came after much research, medical consultations and difficult conversations with family and friends.
“My doctor at the time went through a huge document with me about all the permanent changes that testosterone can do and my mom and I were able to do together to make that safe and informed medical decision,” he said. “They’re not just doing it for fun, they’re not doing it because it’s the thing to do these days, they’re risking so much, they’re risking their friends, they’re risking their family, they’re risking homelessness.”
Other members of the trans community agree with Seaton.
A trans man affiliated with Vanderbilt who asked to use only his first name said the only way he can come close to explaining life with gender dysmorphia is by comparing it to being right-handed but forced to do everything with the left.
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“It’s like explaining that you’re right-handed except it just comes to you,” Adam said. “For me, I was very depressed and suicidal before I transitioned.”
According to an article published by the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 86% of transgender youth are considering suicide. Seaton believes that surgeries and treatments that some call mutilation are actually what save lives.
“The choice is not whether or not to change your body forever, the choice, honestly, is whether or not I want to live to see a future for myself.”
Source : www.wkrn.com