Trans young people say quality of life drastically improved after gender-affirming ‘top’ surgery

The study includes two groups of patients and took place between December 2019 and April 2021. Patient ages ranged from 14 to 24. In one group, 36 patients received top surgery. In the other group (the control group), 34 people received gender-affirming care that did not include top surgery. Participants in the treatment group were matched with a person in the control group of similar age who had spent a similar period of time receiving hormonal treatment.

Researchers checked in with patients at the three-month post-surgery mark and found that patients who had received top surgery reported experiencing much less chest dysphoria than they’d had previously. Patients who didn’t receive the procedure reported having about the same level of dysphoria they’d had before. 

Martin, who is now 18 but was 16 when he received top surgery during the study, said he felt “very uncomfortable” in his body and knew there were “medical options” available to help. Martin went on to say that he hopes his contribution to the study helps show concerned parents that “medical and surgical transition is healthy and safe and extremely helpful for people who choose to go down that path.”

In this study, parents provided oral and written informed consent for patients under 18, and those over 18 (obviously) provided consent for themselves.

“We recognized that surgery significantly improved the quality of life for patients,” Dr. Sumanas Jordan, who directs the gender pathways program at Northwestern Medicine, said to Pink News in an interview. Jordan added that this finding isn’t groundbreaking in adults, but this research on trans young people, specifically, is new. 

People’s identities are real and valid regardless of whether or not they’ve ever received medical treatment or interventions. They’re valid regardless of how they dress, or present to others, or in certain situations, or with certain people. There is not a checklist to accomplish to be trans “enough” to have one’s pronouns respected, for example.

That said, gender-affirming health care is life-saving care. Everyone who wants it should have access to safe, affordable care with a trusted team of medical professionals who can inform and assist in one’s journey. For certain ages, that might be as “simple” as talking to a young person’s parents about the importance of respecting pronouns. For other ages, it might be puberty blockers or, yes, even top surgery. It depends! It’s a personal medical decision. It’s really none of our business, but Republicans are working hard to demonize and humiliate folks so it becomes everyone’s business. 

Trans people accessing safe, age-appropriate health care harms no one… which is exactly the framing many of us (rightfully) use when it comes to things like reproductive health and abortion access. The fight for bodily autonomy includes all of these issues, and it’s important we on the left don’t leave trans folks behind.

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