TMA Supports Evidence-Based Care for LGBTQ Youth
By Sean Price

 


 

The Texas Medical Association aggressively opposes any "potentially harmful, unproven therapies," such as conversion therapy, that are designed to change the sexual orientation of LGBTQ young people, TMA President David Fleeger, MD, said in prepared testimony to the Texas Medical Board (TMB) on Friday.

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"The professional care for each of our minor patients must be built in an environment that supports an open, safe, and confidential patient-physician relationship – but also upon evidence-based care that supports the child’s development," said TMA Assistant General Counsel Laura J. Thetford, reading Dr. Fleeger’s letter.

LGBTQ youth and adolescents face unique health barriers and risks, as well as legal and social bias that contribute to health disparities, Dr. Fleeger's letter said. While more research is needed to adequately support LGBTQ youth, it is clear that they are especially vulnerable to problems like homelessness, substance use disorders, and suicide attempts.

Dr. Fleeger's letter was presented in response to testimony from Quentin Van Meter, MD, a Georgia pediatric endocrinologist who is vice president of the American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds). In his testimony during the public comment period of a regular TMB meeting in Austin, Dr. Van Meter called upon the TMB for a "pause in the process" of encouraging transgender young people to pursue medical help like sexual reassignment surgery and instead encourage them to seek counseling. The ACPeds website calls on health policymakers to reject "all policies that condition children to accept as normal a life of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex."

Some states and the District of Columbia ban conversion therapy. The extent of conversion therapy services in Texas is unknown, but these unproven services are advertised in the state, Dr. Fleeger's letter said.

"TMA and other recognized medical associations strongly recommend that health care for sexual minority youth be rooted in acceptance and support of the individual’s identity, and the provision of accurate information on the development of sexual orientation and gender identity," the letter said.

The September issue of Texas Medicine magazine takes an in-depth look at health problems specific to LGBTQ patients, including the difficulties LGBTQ young people face, and how you can best care for them. Look for it on the TMA’s website and in your mailbox beginning Sept. 1.

Last Updated On

August 20, 2019

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Sean Price

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(512) 370-1392

Sean Price is a reporter for Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. He grew up in Fort Worth and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. He's worked as an award-winning writer and editor for a variety of national magazine, book, and website publishers in New York and Washington. He's also helped produce Texas-based marketing campaigns designed to promote public health. Sean lives in Austin and enjoys hiking, photography, and spending time with his wife and two sons.

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