Medical treatment

Idaho doctor on the importance of medical treatment for transgender youth

According to Dr. Marvin Alviso, who has 40 young trans patients, children who reach ages 12 and 13 only receive social affirmation.

BOISE, Idaho — House Bill 675 — now in the Idaho Senate — would bar transgender children under age 18 from receiving medical treatment to help them with their gender transitions.

Prohibited treatments would include puberty blockers, hormone treatments and gender-affirming surgeries.

Idaho family medicine residency physician Marvin Alviso has been seeing transgender patients of all ages for more than seven years. Alviso is increasingly worried about the future of the transgender community if the bill passes.

“We know that these medications and medication counseling will help ease the very tumultuous puberty that children are already going through,” Alviso said. “So imagine if you’re a transgender going through puberty with this gender dysphoria too, that’s too much.”

During the House debate on the bill on Tuesday, HB 675’s sponsor, Rep. Bruce Skaug (R-Nampa), cited quotes from a study.

“Children as young as 11, 12 and 13 are given puberty blockers, which are surgically inserted,” Skaug said.

According to Dr. Alviso – who has 40 young trans patients – children who turn 12 and 13 only get social affirmation. Which means they have discussions about who they are and what pronouns they want to use.

He added that puberty blockers are not introduced until a child has reached puberty. Once children have reached this point and both parents have given consent, puberty blockers are given, but not surgically.

“They’re not surgically inserted, it’s an injection,” Alviso said. “There is a medical condition called central precocious puberty, so it exists in medical science. I have a niece myself who has central precocious puberty, so she starts puberty when she is seven or eight years old. They are very young when they start menstruating, they already have breast development, so your goal is to stop that puberty until they are old enough, so you are just suspending puberty.

RELATED: Bill Banning Treatments for Transgender Youth in Idaho Heads to Senate

Alviso said putting children on puberty blockers does not sterilize them, but rather puts a pause on their puberty. Of his 40 young patients, 14 of them are on puberty blockers. Once a child has been on puberty blockers for two years – around the age of 16, hormone treatments begin, with parental consent.

From then on, they are monitored every three to six months to ensure there are few or no negative side effects. Side effects may consist of weight gain, high blood pressure, and mood change. Alviso said it was important for teenagers to have access to hormone treatments before the age of 18.

“By the time you’re 17 or 18, you already have the features you don’t want, so we try to avoid them for that,” Alviso said. “For people transitioning to female, we try to avoid them having masculine traits, which will be very hard to stop once they’re already there.”

Alviso said he has seen treatment and medication succeed for young people in transition. Since working with the trans community, Alviso said he can remember only one time when a patient regretted the decision to transition.

“It’s a very dear topic to me, because I’ve been doing this for seven years and I’ve seen improvement in all facets of these patients’ lives and stop, like, you’re pushing these patients to commit suicide,” said Alviso.

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