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Refusing medical care to transgenders can be malpractice

One of the most controversial subjects of the current time is that of transgendered individuals.

Afflicted with what many people term "gender identity disorder," transgenders identify themselves as mentally, emotionally and psychologically of the gender opposite that of their biological gender. Biological males identify themselves and females and biological females identify themselves as male.

Many realize this about themselves at an early age. Thanks to publicity about the issue and high-profile figures, like Chaz Bono and Caitlyn Jenner, who openly transitioned from one gender to another, more young people are seeking treatment at an early age for the disorder.

This flies in the face of many conservative religious doctrines, including that of the Catholic Church. As a result, the United States Bishop's Conference issued a formal letter urging medical professionals to ignore the requests for gender-affirming treatment by transgendered minors.

That, says other experts in the field of transgender studies, could lead to medical malpractice.

Those experts may be right. There are numerous studies affirming gender as something that is far more psychological than it is physical. Leading medical groups also believe that gender-affirming treatment is necessary in order to secure the health and well-being of transgendered children.

In fact, a total of 19 mental health and medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, have supported gender-affirming treatment for children and say that it lowers incidents of depression. Those who receive early care are more likely to avoid serious psychological distress and suicide attempts.

What happens, then, if you encounter a doctor who isn't on board with the rest of the medical community and adopts a view that is far less than supportive. In some situations, it may be enough to simply switch doctors. That might not be an option, however, if the child and family are in a fairly rural or isolated area. Similarly, if their insurance limits their choices of physicians, a single doctor's outdated attitudes could prevent the transgendered child from receiving adequate and reasonable care.

If that refusal leads to serious psychological problems, including depression, anxiety, suicide attempts or actual suicide, the negligent health care professional could be -- and perhaps should be -- held responsible legally and financially for abandoning the care of a patient with legitimate needs.

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