The American Medical Association has put its weight behind opposing bills in state legislatures that would bar transgender people from using the restroom consistent with their gender identity.
The organization, which represents physicians and medical residents nationwide, affirmed its position Monday during its annual meeting in Chicago by approving a resolution rejecting legislation that would disrupt bathroom access for transgender people.
The resolution, titled “Access to Basic Human Services for Transgender Individuals,” makes the case that policies that base access to public facilities on biological sex “place undo harm on the physical and social well-being and safety of transgender individuals.”
Under the resolution, the AMA resolves to “oppose policies preventing transgender individuals from accessing basic human services and public facilities in line with one’s gender identity, including, but not limited to, the use of restrooms.”
Further, the resolution commits the AMA to “advocate for the creation of policies that promote social equality and safe access to basic human services and public facilities for transgender individuals according to one’s gender identity.”
Jesse Ehrenfeld, a medical doctor and member of the AMA Board of Trustees, said in a blog post the resolution seeks to address laws and prejudice against transgender people.
“Prejudice and discrimination affect transgender individuals in many ways throughout their daily lives, often in the form of physical or verbal abuse or bullying,” Ehrenfeld said. “Laws and policies that restrict the use of public facilities based on biological gender can have immediate and lingering physical consequences, as well as severe mental health repercussions. To protect the public health and to promote social equality and safe access to public facilities and services, the American Medical Association is opposed to policies that prevent transgender individuals from accessing basic human services and public facilities in line with their gender identity.”
According to the AMA, the Gay & Lesbian Medical Association was responsible for introducing the measure in favor of allowing transgender people access to the bathroom consistent with their gender identity. The 555 delegates who comprise the AMA House of Delegates, the association’s policy-making body, deliberated the measure before approving it.
And the resolution on access to public facilities wasn’t the only pro-trans measure the AMA approved. The AMA also approved a resolution titled, “Medical Spectrum of Gender,” which says gender is “currently incompletely understood as a binary selection” and seeks to better education the medical community on the issue amid growing visibility of non-binary people.
Also approved was a separate resolution committing the AMA to work with the Food & Drug Administration to develop a gender-neutral patient categorization model in risk management plans for pregnancy to accommodate transgender men who can still have children.
Lastly, delegates to the AMA meeting “called for future AMA meetings to take place, whenever possible, only in those counties, cities and states that have nondiscriminatory policies,” according to the blog post.
Mary Beth Maxwell, the Human Rights Campaign’s senior vice president for programs, research and training, hailed the AMA in a statement for approving the resolution in favor of transgender people.
“The AMA, one of the most respected associations of medical professionals in the world, knows better than most the harmful consequences of ill-conceived anti-transgender actions,” Maxwell said. “Policies that seek to restrict access for transgender people to vital programs and facilities can result in negative physical and mental health outcomes for those targeted for discrimination and mistreatment.”
Taking the lead on transgender health isn’t new for the AMA. Previously adopted resolutions include a measure calling on the U.S. military to lift its ban on transgender service — a move that took place late in the Obama administration. The AMA has also affirmed transition-related care for transgender people and repudiated widely discredited “ex-gay” conversion therapy.
The AMA approved the latest resolution after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called for a special session of the state legislature this summer to approve a bill inhibiting bathroom access for transgender people. Although lawmakers advanced such a proposal during the regular session, they couldn’t agree on a bill before time expired.