Gender-Affirming Health Care Is Life or Death for Trans People
The pandemic has made things more dire — but there are reasons to feel hopeful
This story includes descriptions of people experiencing suicidal ideation, which may be disturbing to some readers. If you or someone you know need help, consider calling the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800–273–8255 or the Trevor Project Hotline (for LGBT youth) at 866–488–7386.
If Brooklyn Scherer hadn’t been able to transition into her true gender identity, she says she wouldn’t be here today.
Raised as a boy by conservative parents in the suburbs of Seattle, Scherer, now 37, buried her true identity for decades. She’s also autistic, she tells Elemental, which led to further social isolation. She had suicidal thoughts for years and even experienced a few suicide attempts.
“I probably would have committed suicide years ago if I had a foolproof way to do it painlessly,” Scherer says. “For a while, I was waiting around until my mom died so that it wouldn’t guilt-trip her.”
But Scherer’s fate turned around when she learned the term “transgender” later in life, which helped her understand her own identity. She also learned about gender-affirming health care, like hormones, surgery, and therapy, which helps transgender people live in bodies that better align with their gender identity. The cloud lifted. She came out as trans in her thirties and started taking hormones two years ago, at age 35.
“I haven’t been suicidal since I came out,” says Scherer. “Testosterone was not the right hormone from my brain. With estrogen, I feel normal.”
While gender-affirming care isn’t something every single trans person wants or needs, it’s safe to say that most do: The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) found that 91% of transgender people wanted counseling, hormones, and/or puberty blockers for their gender identity or gender transition at some point — and only 65% reported ever having any of them.
Gender-affirming care is scientifically proven to improve the moods and outlooks of transgender individuals, according to research compiled by the Center for the Study of Inequality at Cornell University. This…