Jul 26, 2023 - Health

Travel time for gender-affirming care doubles in states with bans

Median hours transgender teens must drive to receive gender-affirming care
Data: JAMA; Note: Includes U.S. transgender teens ages 13-17; Chart: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals

State bans on gender-affirming care for youths have left more than a quarter of kids under 18 in need of such services at least a four-hour drive away from the nearest clinic that provides them, according to a new JAMA study.

Driving the news: 70 clinics were inactive as of May in the 20 states that imposed restrictions on gender-affirming care, per the report published Tuesday.

  • That's more than a quarter of the 271 clinics to publicly advertise gender-affirming care for youths, including puberty blockers and hormone therapies.

By the numbers: The average travel time to a gender-affirming care clinic doubled from roughly 30 minutes to an hour, with the longest drive being nearly nine hours in Florida and more than seven in Texas.

  • Nearly half of 10-to-17-year-olds in the U.S. now live more than an hour from a clinic, compared to about 27% prior to restrictions, per the study.

What they're saying: "It is unknown whether existing clinics may have capacity to meet the increased need of out-of-patients," researchers wrote, which means actual travel times could be longer if families don’t choose the closest clinic due to waiting times.

The big picture: State legislatures have introduced at least 130 pieces of legislation that ban aspects of gender-affirming medical care, according to data from the American Civil Liberties Union.

Between the lines: Gender-affirming care has been deemed medically necessary, evidence-based care that could save lives by major medical associations like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association.

Go deeper