American Medical Association President Dr. Jesse Ehrenfeld (center left) (Photo courtesy AMA)

The American Medical Association on Monday voted to strengthen its policies governing access to gender affirming care for transgender and gender diverse individuals.

The group committed to opposing the criminalization of patients for seeking gender affirming care, and of families and healthcare providers for facilitating access to or administering that care.

Additionally, the AMA pledged to work with federal and state legislators and regulators to oppose policies criminalizing these guideline-directed healthcare interventions and to educate the Federation of State Medical Boards on their importance.

The resolution was introduced by the Endocrine Society, which issued a press release Monday celebrating the move: “As political attacks on gender-affirming care escalate, it is the responsibility of the medical community to speak out in support of evidence-based care.”

“Medical decisions should be made by patients, their relatives and health care providers, not politicians,” the Endocrine Society wrote.

The resolution was cosponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Urological Association, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American College of Physicians, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinology, GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ+ Equality and the AMA’s Medical Student Section.

The Endocrine Society explained the legislative bans on gender affirming care — passed in states in which 30 percent of the nation’s trans and gender-diverse youth now live — are misguided.

“Pediatric gender-affirming care is designed to take a conservative approach,” the group wrote.

“When young children experience feelings that their gender identity does not match the sex recorded at birth, the first course of action is to support the child in exploring their gender identity and to provide mental health support, as needed.”

“Medical intervention is reserved for older adolescents and adults, with treatment plans tailored to the individual and designed to maximize the time teenagers and their families have to make decisions about their transitions.

“Major medical organizations also agree on waiting until an individual has turned 18 or reached the age of majority in their country to undergo gender-affirming genital surgery.”

Additionally, the Endocrine Society noted research that shows gender affirming care can be lifesaving.

“A 2020 study analyzed survey data from 89 transgender adults who had access to puberty-delaying medication while adolescents and data from more than 3,400 transgender adults who did not. The study found that those who received puberty-delaying hormone treatment had lower likelihood of lifetime suicidal ideation than those who wanted puberty-delaying treatment but did not receive it, even after adjusting for demographic variables and level of family support.”

“Approximately nine in 10 transgender adults who wanted puberty-delaying treatment, but did not receive it, reported lifetime suicidal ideation.”

AMA inaugurates first gay president

Jesse Ehrenfeld, the AMA’s first openly gay president, was inaugurated during the 2023 Annual Meeting of House of Delegates on Tuesday.

An anesthesiologist who formerly served as the Joseph A. Johnson Jr. Distinguished Leadership Professor of anesthesiology, surgery, biomedical informatics and health policy at Vanderbilt University’s School of Medicine; Ehrenfeld spoke to the Washington Blade for an exclusive interview last month.

During his inaugural speech on Tuesday, Ehrenfeld relayed a personal story about how his now 4-year-old son, born early and severely underweight, needed a blood transfusion. “At this moment,” he said, “watching my son cling to life, I was struck by the painful reality that, even though I was a physician and now, a father … neither I, nor my husband, could donate blood — simply because we are gay.”

“Just recently, the FDA, thanks in large part to a decade of advocacy by our AMA and others, rescinded some of these discriminatory practices, making it possible for my husband and I to give someone else’s child a much-needed blood transfusion,” Ehrenfeld said. “This kind of advocacy is why I am so proud to lead our AMA at this moment.”

“Today there is an unconscionable effort to interfere in medicine,” Ehrenfeld said. “An assault on patient and physician autonomy. Legislative over-reach. Attacks on maternal health … on LGBTQ patients.”

“We have a duty to push back against legislative interference in the practice of medicine that is leading to the criminalization of care.”

Story courtesy of the Washington Blade via the National LGBTQ Media Association. The National LGBTQ Media Association represents 13 legacy publications in major markets across the country with a collective readership of more than 400K in print and more than 1 million + online. Learn more here: