YASMIN VOSSOUGHIAN (HOST): Let's turn now to a mental health crisis in Utah. Trans kids are now prohibited from seeking gender-affirming care in the state thanks to a new law passed by Republicans. Marisa McPeck-Stringham, a mental health therapist in Layton, Utah, told the 19th news this: six of her clients, all transgender teenagers, said they were experiencing suicidal ideation caused by the state moving forward with that ban on gender affirming care. And she didn’t stop there, adding this: who knows what I'm going to see this week? If one trans kid takes their life because of this bill, the blood is on your hands, Governor. And Marisa McPeck-Stringham, mental health therapist in Layton, Utah, joins me now. Thanks for joining us on this. We appreciate it. Tell us about this week.
MARISA MCPECK-STRINGHAM (MENTAL HEALTH THERAPIST): This week has been really intense, if I could describe it. Not just trans teenagers are being affected by this bill. I have a lot of trans clients who are adults who are feeling like they are also under attack. Because what’s next? Last year we had a bill that banned trans teenagers from playing high school sports. This year, we have one that says they can’t seek any hormone treatment or hormone blockers. So, are they going to come after adults next and their rights?
VOSSOUGHIAN: I know that civil rights groups are gearing up for some pretty major legal challenges to all of this. But in the interim, as you are speaking with your clients, these trans teens, these members of the LGBTQ+ community who are scared, scared for their very lives, what is the solution right now?
MCPECK-STRINGHAM: I'm not sure where the solution is because I feel like our state legislature, they are operating from a place of ignorance. They have not considered the standards of medical care that have been established by the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, you know, American Psychiatric Association, these standards of care have been put in place. That Republican legislators in my state are not listening to them. In social justice, we have a saying, nothing about us without us. And they’ve created these bills without actually speaking to the people that are affected by these bills, affected by these policies. They are not talking to trans people, they’re not talking to trans teens, they’re not talking to actual experts that are working with these communities. They are operating from a place of fear and ignorance. I don't know what the path moving forward is until -- unless and until we can help these legislators see that these are real people, real children, they deserve just as much love and compassion as their children do.
VOSSOUGHIAN: I know you have clients, as you mentioned, that are not just trans clients, they are members of the LGBTQ+ community who have talked specifically about wanting to move out of the state of Utah because of what is happening there. And it's not just happening in Utah. It's happening in states across the country right now. Is this something that you are now suggesting or talking to with your clients about considering what is happening in states like Utah and possibly being accepted elsewhere more so?
MCPECK-STRINGHAM: If it comes up organically. If I'm talking to a 12-year-old trans child, they don't have a lot of options, they are stuck to where they are at. If I'm talking to seniors, I do have a few trans clients that are juniors and seniors, and where they are preparing for college and where are safe places they can go. When it comes to trans issues, are there really any truly safe places? Even in the most liberal cities I have heard of trans aggression and violence against the trans community. You know, if moving keeps them safe, safety is my number one priority for my clients.
VOSSOUGHIAN: I cannot help but wonder what the implications, the consequences of abruptly stopping gender affirming care now that this law is in place, where so many of these individuals, and these children, what that really does to them. Marissa McPeck-Stringham, thank you so much. An incredibly important story right now. Thank you for joining us.