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American Academy of Pediatrics Opposes Legislation that Discriminates Against Transgender Children

North Carolina's HB2 and similar bills across the country harm transgender youth


RALEIGH—The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a nonprofit organization representing 64,000 pediatricians dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of all infants, children, adolescents and young adults, and its North Carolina chapter, representing 2,000 pediatric care professionals serving children in the state, join in calling for the repeal of HB2, legislation recently signed into law by North Carolina governor Pat McCrory.

In expressing concerns about how HB2 will marginalize and stigmatize already vulnerable children and youth, Deborah Ainsworth, MD, FAAP, president of the AAP North Carolina Chapter, issued the following statement:

"As pediatricians, we know first-hand how increasing burdens and barriers for youth who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) can increase their risk of depression, substance abuse, dropping out of school, or suicide.

"The law can also have unintentional consequences for children born with gender-related genetic disorders, children with disabilities who may need a different sex parent to help them in the restroom, and children who find themselves homeless due to lack of support for their gender identities.

"We also know that supportive and affirming communities, schools, friends and families can buffer all young people – especially LGBT youth – from these negative experiences and outcomes while simultaneously promoting positive health and well-being. We all have a fundamental responsibility to support and nurture children and adolescents to ensure that they can grow and develop into healthy adults. Laws like HB2 send a distressing message to transgender youth and can worsen the challenges many already face. We must do better for North Carolina's young people. They're counting on us."

Karen Remley, MD, MBA, MPH, FAAP, executive director and chief executive officer of the AAP, also issued the following statement:

"Pediatricians in North Carolina and across the country know what children need: they need the stability and support of nurturing adults, they need the acceptance and compassion of their peers and community, and they need to feel safe where they live and where they learn. The bill recently signed by Gov. McCrory, and the flurry of similar bills that have been introduced in state legislatures this year, fails to meet children's most basic needs of validation and protection.

"Adolescents who are transgender are already at heightened risk for violence, bullying and harassment, and are already more prone to depression and engaging in self-harm, including suicide. HB2 and other measures making their way through state legislatures across the country exacerbate those risks by creating hostile environments for transgender youth, all implying the same message; 'you're different, something is wrong with you, you need to change in order to fit in here.'

"The message some public leaders have chosen is not the message we should be telling transgender children and teens. The message of the American Academy of Pediatrics to transgender youth is this: we support you, and we will speak up for you. And so today, we do. We urge the governor of North Carolina and all other states considering similar measures to reconsider and repeal these harmful policies, and in so doing, stand up for transgender children."

In February, the AAP joined several other leading health and welfare organizations in a letter urging governors to oppose discriminatory legislation against transgender people. Last week, the AAP Voices blog published a post on pediatricians' guiding families of transgender children on a path toward well-being.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 64,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds.

The North Carolina Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics/North Carolina Pediatric Society is an organization of 2,000 pediatric care professionals throughout North Carolina working to empower pediatricians and our partners to foster the physical, social, and emotional well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.ncpeds.org and follow us on Twitter @ncpeds.

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