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Gender-Affirming Health Care Saves Lives

person in hat holding sign saying trans rights are human rightsWASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) asserts that discrimination and prejudice directed against any individuals on the basis of gender identity or expression are 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 health care, the professionals who provide their medical care, and the families and social supports that offer resources to them is an unfortunate indicator of the lack of understanding and misinformation that currently exists. The Equality Federation is currently tracking 325 anti-transgender pieces of legislation across the nation that continue to 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. Despite increased public awareness, every day TGD individuals and communities experience unprecedented and intolerable amounts of social judgement, stigma, verbal harassment, physical violence, and trauma.
Research tells us that no one is confronted with more hate crimes and intolerance than TGD people who also hold Black, Brown and Indigenous identities.  

NASW calls 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 will work to repeal discriminatory legislation and regulations that do not honor someone's self-identified gender identity, transgender-inclusive health care access, health insurance options, or use of language promoting health equity and inclusive communication. 

NASW participates in coalitions with other professional associations and organizations to advocate for the civil rights of all people of diverse gender expression and identity. We recognize TGD people often experience multiple intersections of oppression based on racism, poverty, heterosexism, cissexism, ageism, ableism, and mental and behavioral health status. Our code of ethics requires that we 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. To achieve health equity for all, we believe that trauma-informed care, gender-affirming care, and mental and behavioral health care should all be recognized as evidence-based and informed health care in our nation. 

NASW acknowledges policy solutions that work in one state might not work, or be possible, in another state. Through its extensive chapter network, NASW is committed to informing, building, and contributing to TGD-led coalitions that work to eliminate inequities experienced by Transgender and Gender Diverse people. 
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The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), in Washington, DC, is the largest membership organization of professional social workers. It promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW also seeks to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through its advocacy.