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Arizona law banning gender-affirming surgery until 18 in effect. Advocates say it harms trans youth

Last year, former Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation that would delay gender-affirming surgery until the age of 18. On April 1, that measure went into effect. 

Even if a parent supports gender-affirming surgery, they would now have to take their child out of state to get this kind of care. 

Nate Rhoton is the CEO of 1-n-10, an LGBTQ youth organization. He says lawmakers should not be making these kinds of health care decisions. 

"I think it's dangerous when we take that out of the parents hands, who are just trying to get their child the medical care that they need and deserve," he said.

He also worries about the impact on the collective psyche of trans youth. 

"It sends a message to them that they're not accepted that it's not okay for them to be who they are. And it also targets them with various groups that maybe disagree with how they are, quote, unquote, living their lives."

According to the Trevor Project, 85% of transgender and nonbinary youth say the debates around anti-trans bills have negatively impacted their mental health. 

"It impacts real people and impacts young people in ways that show up or manifest as heightened cases of depression, anxiety, self harm, suicidal ideations and even suicide attempts. So it's something that is really dangerous for our young people."

The law does not ban puberty blockers or other gender-affirming hormone therapy.

Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.