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Gender-Affirming Healthcare Saves Lives

In light of more than 325 anti-transgender bills before state legislatures—including 12 that were killed in the Virginia General Assembly last session—NASW is further asserting that discrimination directed against any individuals on the basis of gender identity or expression is damaging to the social, emotional, psychological, physical and economic well-being of transgender and gender-diverse (TGD) people and society as a whole. The unprecedented increase in legislation focused on TGD youth seeking affirming healthcare, the professionals who provide their medical care, and the families and social supports that offer resources to them is an unfortunate indicator of the misinformation and lack of public and policy maker understanding that currently exists.

The Equality Federation Anti-Transgender Legislation Tracker monitors all anti-transgender bills that threaten the livelihood of TGD people and substantially reduce access to services they need to stay alive. Consequences of misinformed legislation will increase threats of violence, perpetuate prejudice, promote health inequity, and increase incarceration rates for TGD people simply being themselves. Social determinants affecting the health of TGD people are rooted in discrimination and oppression. NASW Virginia and NASW recognize TGD people often experience multiple intersections of oppression based on racism, poverty, heterosexism, cissexism, ageism, ableism, and mental and behavioral health status.

Despite increased public awareness, TGD individuals and communities experience intolerable daily amounts of social judgment, stigma, verbal harassment, physical violence, and trauma. NASW research concludes that no one is confronted with more hate crimes and intolerance than TGD people who also hold Black, Brown and Indigenous identities. NASW and NASW Virginia call on all members of the social work profession to support, promote, affirm, and “protect the rights, legal benefits, and privileges of people of all gender identities and expressions.”

NASW and NASWVA will continue working to repeal discriminatory legislation and regulations that do not honor someone's self-identified gender identity, transgender-inclusive healthcare access, health insurance options, or use of language promoting health equity and inclusive communication. One tactic is through the chapter’s participation in civil rights coalitions. Among other expertise Executive Director Debra Riggs, CAE, and NASWVA members bring to the table is the powerful NASW Code of Ethics. The code requires that social workers challenge social injustice and respect the inherent dignity and worth of every person. Providing holistic care while honoring intersectionality is a foundational element of informed social work practice.

The code also mandates that social work professionals practice through an anti-racist and anti-oppressive lens, and in late March, NASW released another statement supportive of diversity, inclusiveness, and equity and DEI programs.

To achieve health equity for all, trauma-informed care, gender-affirming care, and mental and behavioral healthcare should all be recognized as evidence-based and -informed healthcare in the United States.

Learn more and get involved:

  • LGBTQIA2S+ Resources and Partners

  • Human Rights Campaign

  • The Trevor Project

  • World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH)

  • ACLU: LGBTQ Rights


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