AGPA STATEMENT ON GENDER AFFIRMING CARE
February 25, 2022
This week, the attorney general in Texas issued a legal opinion characterizing gender-affirming healthcare for transgender and nonbinary youth, such as hormone replacement therapy and puberty blockers, as child abuse. Following that nonbinding opinion, the governor directed all mandated reporters in the state to disclose information about minors undergoing these procedures to the Department of Family and Protective Services for the purpose of investigating parents under existing child abuse prevention laws.
The American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA) is a professional organization of clinicians from diverse professional and personal backgrounds, orientations, and communities who share common values about the power of group therapy in promoting understanding, overcoming divisions, and engaging in transformative dialogue across differences. We have issued previous public statements denouncing attempts to limit the human rights of gender nonconforming people and reinforcing the science, history, and clinical experience that converge to support the crucial role of developmentally appropriate and thoughtful gender affirming treatment in supporting the mental health of trans, nonbinary, and intersex young people. Despite similar unambiguous public statements and guidelines from allied organizations such as the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the World Professional Association of Transgender Health, legal measures continue to be proposed that are in direct contrast to expert consensus. As such, we reiterate our position with this Public Statement.
The current actions in Texas follow an unprecedented number of bills introduced by legislators in various states across the United States that target transgender people and their families, particularly children and adolescents. According to reporting from Sandy West in Kaiser Health News, 50 such bills were introduced in the state of Texas alone last year. In the first week of 2022, attempts were made to legislate the lives of LGBTQ+ youth in seven states. At AGPA, we see these efforts as a violation of human rights, placing an already-vulnerable population at further risk for deleterious outcomes, particularly suicide. Treatments that support exploration and actualization of gender identity are protective, preventative, and represent best practices. They are also part of the ethical mandate of helping professionals.
All mental health providers, as part of their oath of practice, are required to take proactive action in order to reduce harm and to improve the lives of those they treat. Underlying this oath is the principle of beneficence. We condemn efforts to order clinicians to violate their ethical mandates under the guise of “child protection.” Disclosures made by those who are wounded and seeking help should not be used to further harm them, and doctors providing life-changing treatments should not be under fire by political systems.
AGPA denounces attempts to limit the rights of trans, intersex, nonbinary and gender nonconforming people, and urges all stakeholders to call on state and federal lawmakers to advance policies and protections guided by the wisdom of medical research and practice. All members of groups are valuable, and we uphold the rights of LGBTQ+ people to self-determination and a life without fear.
This statement was developed by the AGPA Community Outreach Task Force, chaired by Craig Haen and Suzanne Phillips, which is charged with establishing and executing community outreach programs to provide professional assistance to diverse group populations in the aftermath of traumatic events, in collaboration with the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force, chaired by Sophia Aguirre and Wendy Freedman; the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Identities SIG, chaired by Stef Gentuso and Angelynn Hermes; and the Children and Adolescents SIG, chaired by Seth Aronson, Thomas Hurster, and Elina Kanellopoulou.
Community Outreach Task Force Co-Chairs
Craig Haen, Ph.D., RDT, LCAT, CGP, FAGPA
Suzanne Phillips, Psy.D., ABPP, CGP, FAGPA
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Task Force Co-Chairs
M. Sophia Aguirre, Ph.D., CGP, FAGPA
Wendy Freedman, Ph.D., CGP
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer Identities Special Interest Group Co-Chairs
Stef Gentuso, MA, LPCC
Angelynn Hermes, LCSW, CGP
Children & Adolescents Special Interest Group Co-Chairs
Seth Aronson, Psy.D., CGP, FAGPA
Thomas K. Hurster, MSS, LCSW, CGP, FAGPA
Elina Kanellopoulou, Ph.D.