The health and mental health care of transgender people is something that has been a hot button topic this year, with many stories and studies showing that trans people are often lacking proper care and face discrimination by healthcare workers.
However, we may see a healthcare milestone being reached in New York, as the New York State Health Department has signaled that they intend to allow young transgender people to be covered by Medicaid for transition related care.
The move, which has been proposed in the State Register, would mean that minors being treated for gender dysphoria would receive Medicaid for things such as pubertal suppressants and cross-sex hormone therapy. Last year, the state covered similar treatments for transgender adults.
Previously, the department had concerns about safety, but these worries were assuaged when it “had the opportunity to talk to a number of practitioners who treat minors” with gender dysphoria. After this, they uniformly agreed that hormone therapies were medically justifiable for young people suffering from gender dysphoria.
The proposed rule reads: “The proposed changes therefore would make Medicaid coverage of transgender care and services available, regardless of an individual’s age, when such care and services are medically necessary to treat the individual’s gender dysphoria.”
The changes are not in effect yet, as there is a 45 day comment period and after that it can be officially adopted by the state.
James Plastiras, a spokesman for the department, had this to say: “These proposed regulations build upon existing science to ensure that youths who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria receive medically necessary care. And render moot any claim that current standards don’t provide that care.”
Professionals are in agreement that while surgery would not necessarily be appropriate for trans minors, the benefit from receiving hormone treatments before puberty truly gets a foothold are palpable. The access to hormone treatments will prevent the need for difficult surgeries later in life.
This particularly applies to MtF transgender youths, according to Dr. Carolyn Wolf-Gould, a family practitioner at the Gender Wellness Center in Oneonta.
Dr. Wolf-Gould said, “Once male puberty has occurred, it’s very hard to reverse those changes.” Of course, that’s not to say a FtM transition is a walk in the park either, as mastectomies can often leave “painful and unsightly scars”.
It’s also less traumatic for a transgender teen to go through puberty, according to Dr. Wolf-Gould.