Jul 27, 2023 - News

Travel time for gender-affirming care sees eightfold increase in Utah

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 age 18 with such services at least a 4-hour drive away, according to a new JAMA study.

Context: Utah was the first state this year to pass a law that prohibits gender-affirming care for transgender minors.

  • The ban has forced some families to leave Utah for other states without such restrictions.

Driving the news: 70 clinics were inactive as of May in the 20 states that imposed restrictions on gender-affirming care since 2021, per the report published Tuesday, writes Axios' Sabrina Moreno.

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

By the numbers: The average travel time nationally to a gender-affirming care clinic doubled from roughly 30 minutes to an hour, with the longest drive being nearly 9 hours in Florida and more than 7 in Texas.

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

Zoom in: Utahns previously traveled an average of under an hour to receive gender-affirming care.

  • Now, the average time is nearly 6 hours.

Threat level: "It is unknown whether existing clinics may have capacity to meet the increased need," researchers wrote, meaning actual travel times could be longer if families don't choose the closest clinic due to wait times.

The big picture: State legislatures in the U.S. have introduced at least 130 bills that ban aspects of gender-affirming 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, according to major medical associations like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association.


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