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Teen Sex Changes without Parental Consent Legalized in Oregon

The Short of It

Last August, the Oregon Health Evidence Review Commission (HERC) passed a policy allowing children age 15 and older access to cross-sex hormones, puberty-suppressing drugs and sex reassignment surgeries—all without parental consent—subsidized by the state's Medicaid funds at a cost of approximately $150,000 per year.

The Lowdown

Reactions are divided on the issue. Parents' Rights in Education is in disbelief over the ruling.

"It is trespassing on the hearts, the minds, the bodies of our children," Ori Porter with Parents' Rights in Education told Fox 12 KPTV. "They're our children. And for a decision, a life-altering decision like that to be done unbeknownst to a parent or guardian—it's mind-boggling."

On the other side of the debate, transgender activists say the new policy, which went into effect January 2015, will be helpful for teens with dysphoria, a mental disorder that affects 1 out of every 35,000 Americans, and could reduce the number of suicide attempts in the state.

The Oregon Health Authority hasn't released any statistics on how many teens have come forward to use the services listed in the new policy; however, HERC estimates the changes will lead to one less suicide attempt per year in Oregon.

The Upshot

I understand both sides' arguments on this issue. Are 15-year-old children really able to think through such life-altering decisions clearly at their young age? But what if the policy could prevent a family from grieving the loss of child to suicide?

I think the best plan for teens who identify themselves as transgender and who don't feel comfortable approaching their parents is to find an adult they trust—a teacher, counselor, grandparent, aunt or uncle—and explain how they feel and why they want to explore sex-changing drugs or surgery. Then together, they can make an educated, well-thought-out decision that eventually includes the child's parents.

How do you feel about teens being able to make such a permanent decision without the guidance of their parents?

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