About two months ago, I wrote a column about the New York State Legislature repealing an anti-trans law. It was a wonderful move by New York’s lawmakers but unfortunately is not representative of all the bills being proposed around the country. For example, some southern states have moved to impose unscientific and abusive bans on gender-affirming care for minors.

In Arkansas, a new law banned the provision of gender-affirming care for minors. For reference, gender-affirming care generally refers to puberty blockers to stunt physical and mental effects of puberty on the body, hormone treatment to alter secondary sex characteristics and mental states to be more in line with one’s gender identity and surgery to directly alter parts of the body. The American Civil Liberties Union has labeled this “the single most extreme anti-trans law to ever pass through a state legislature.” Despite the governor’s veto, the Arkansas legislature overrode that veto with a supermajority. Meanwhile, the State Senate of Alabama has passed a bill that would make it a felony for medical providers to provide puberty blockers or hormone treatment for minors. It also prevents “public funds, such as Medicaid, from being used for transition-related care” according to NBC News. A similar bill in Tennessee recently was passed in committee which makes similar bans and imposes misdemeanor charges for doctors which provide this care.

With that background, it’s important to keep aware of the facts — these laws are against both scientific and medical consensus. The American Psychological Association recognizes “it may be medically and therapeutically indicated for some transgender and other gender diverse children and adolescents to transition from one gender to another using any of the following: … pubertal suppression, cross-sex hormone treatment and surgical treatment,” because “gender identity develops in early childhood and some children and adolescents may not identify with their assigned sex at birth.” The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that “youth who identify as [transgender and gender diverse] have access to comprehensive, gender-affirming and developmentally appropriate health care.” To further quell any fears of the term “puberty blockers,” the Endocrine Society has said, “Suppressing puberty [through puberty blockers] is fully reversible and it gives individuals experiencing gender incongruence more time to explore their options.” On a related note, the Endocrine Society also cites a survey from 2015 that looked at transgender individuals in the United States and found that “among individuals who were refused gender-affirming care in the previous year, 62 percent reported experiencing thoughts of suicide and 14.4 percent attempted suicide. Nearly half of transgender individuals who were rejected by their family have attempted suicide, while 33 [percent] who were not rejected attempted suicide.” A study of this data further found that “among transgender adults … who have wanted pubertal suppression, access to this treatment is associated with lower odds of lifetime suicidal ideation. This study strengthens recommendations … for this treatment to be made available for transgender adolescents who want it.”

This evidence is indicative of the broad medical consensus which simply doesn’t support the actions of said representatives. Until lawmakers get medical degrees and do peer-reviewed research to support their accusations, they ought to take a back seat to the professionals. Banning gender-affirming care is unjustified and punitive in the cruelest way.

The fact is that more must be done to work toward solving this problem. In the immediate term, federal legislation, such as the Equality Act, should be passed to guarantee greater equality for LGBTQ+ folk. In addition, greater federal anti-discrimination protections to prevent actions such as those in Arkansas should be enacted. In the long-term, the U.S. education system must be reformed to teach basic sociology during middle and high school. I think it’s intuitive to believe basic civics should be taught since democracy requires an informed populous. But this kind of democracy-oriented education further necessitates that we are able to observe and understand not just the branches of government, but about peoples and groups other than our own, from different races, genders, socioeconomic backgrounds, religions, etc. Its absence can breed resentment and complete misunderstanding of the true reality at play and can lead to heinous and genuine oppression by a misguided majority.

The new Arkansas law will have an enormous impact on the lives of transgender and gender diverse youth. The fact is that the unnecessary withholding of important medical attention with no scientific purpose is nothing short of child abuse. The lack of acceptance of transgender people in society is a major hurdle that too many people don’t overcome because their lives end both tragically and painfully short. Elected representatives who voted in favor of this law won’t just condone the arrest of doctors but will be signing the death certificates of the children they’re claiming to protect.

Eleanor Gully is a junior triple-majoring in philosophy, politics and law, economics and French.