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IL seeks to expand ‘gender-affirming care’ national group says is harmful to kids

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(The Center Square) – An Illinois state agency is launching a statewide initiative it says “supports and expands gender-affirming care,” but a national pediatric group says that’s the wrong approach for children.

The Illinois Department of Human Services said a recent survey from the Center for American Progress found one in five LGBTQ+ adults say they avoided care due to disrespect or discrimination, “growing to one in three for transgender and nonbinary respondents.”

Monday, the agency announced the Transgender and Gender Diverse Wellness and Equity Program that will train organizations across the state to “expand … gender-affirming care.”

“IDHS is committed to meeting the people of Illinois where they most need empowerment,” IDHS Secretary Designate Dulce M. Quintero said in a statement. “We are so proud to play a role in this programming for our gender-diverse community.”

The agency did not immediately respond to The Center Square’s questions about the taxpayer cost of the state program announced Monday and whether it would be at all geared toward people under the age of 18.

In a news release, the agency said through a competitive process, the Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago was selected to serve as the lead organization for the initiatives. Groups taking part include Southern Illinois University, Champaign-Urbana Public Health District and the Douglas County Health Department, among others.

Services the participating organizations would offer include “gender-affirming care” training for staff, employing health care navigators and “strategies to expand their medically- and culturally-appropriate gender-affirming care throughout their service areas.”

Program participant Youth Outlook in Naperville said on their website they have “drop-in” centers that are “safe, supportive, and affirming spaces for LGBTQ+ youth.”

“Health & Wellness Navigation services assist youth and families to find affirming providers,” the website said.

The website of another program participant, Rainbow Cafe LGBTQ Center in Carbondale, said the non-profit “prioritizes a holistic model of community care to support LGBTQIA+ people of all ages, backgrounds, and identities.”

“Transgender, gender-diverse, and LGBTQ+ communities deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, and to receive care that affirms their identities,” PHIMC President and CEO Karen A. Reitan said in a statement alongside IDHS. “These are essential steps that help dismantle systemic discrimination, which has created inequitable access to healthcare.”

A group of pediatricians had a different take on the issue as it pertains to children. Friday in Washington D.C., the American College of Pediatricians held a news conference where Dr. Andre Van Mol said “gender dysphoria is a diagnosis whereas transgenderism is an ideology.”

“Withholding unproven interventions is nondiscriminatory, and gender-affirming health care has neither been shown to be safe, nor effective nor of more help than harm,” Van Mol said. “Physicians take an oath to do no harm and gender-affirming health care is documented to lead to harm.”

He further argued that gender affirmation “does not reduce suicides, it does not repair mental health issues or trauma.”

Louis Brown of the Catholic Health Care Leadership Alliance said studies show so-called “gender-affirming procedures” are severely harmful for children.

“To protect the health and dignity of millions of children, medical associations, health care professionals, health care entities and government health care programs at the state and federal level must stop promoting and providing unethical and harmful so-called … gender-affirming procedures,” Brown said.

Van Mol, Brown and others signed on to the Doctors Protecting Children Declaration.

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