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  • Writer's pictureKalen Zeiger, MS, tLMFT, CCTP, CFTP

Legal vs Ethical Trans Choice

Updated: Aug 10, 2023

In a perfect world, laws would align with ethics.

Certainly, those who create bills seem to think this is the case. Unfortunately, in the real world, what is legal and what is ethical are can be very far from each other- especially when it comes to marginalized populations, like trans people and kids.


Erin Reed, of Erin in the Morning, writes about the "noticeable uptick" in anti-trans laws. The Washington Post published an article stating "anti-trans bills have doubled since 2022", NPR reported that Missouri is planning to restrict medical care for trans adults, and many states have or are in the process of various anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ bills. Here in Iowa, Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill to ban age-appropriate, life-saving gender-affirming care for trans kids.


Despite what hate groups and bigoted politicians say, the research has been done and the science behind trans care is solid. Trans people are trans, and trans kids know who they are. Gender-affirming care has been overwhelmingly shown to drastically reduce mortality rates and increase quality of life. Which is the ultimate goal of both physical and mental health care. Additionally, AP News discusses that trans affirming care has a very low regret rate, at around 1%. Compare that to the 14.4% average regret rate across the board, as indicated by research in the World Journal of Surgery, in regard to surgeries for important things like cancer treatment to heart valves. Given these facts, it is clear that withholding or refusing to provide gender-affirming care is an unethical act.


Here is where legal vs ethical becomes important. Right now providers and institutions are letting all of us know what side of the trans choice they are really on. One side is either hateful and bigoted or at the very least cares more about protecting themselves than doing what is ethically right to protect and care for vulnerable trans people and kids. I am both a therapist and a trans person. Both a trans parent and a care provider. I do see all the angles of this, but the ethical choice is clear. Like many other trans and queer people, I am watching as institutions and clinics decide, and I will remember the trans choices they make.

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