There is new controversy over a policy put into effect in Oregon this year which allows teenagers to get a sex change, without their parents even knowing about it.
Proponents say the policy can save lives, but parents’ rights groups are outraged.
The list of things 15-year-olds can't do legally in Oregon is long. They can't drive, smoke, give blood, use a tanning bed or get a tattoo.
However, since earlier this year the new Oregon Health Evidence Review Commission policy allows them to get drugs to suppress puberty and even a sex change operation without parental consent, and the state will subsidize the cost.
Parents’ Rights in Education, a parents' rights group, is outraged at the state’s decision.
'It is trespassing on the hearts, the minds, the bodies of our children,” Ori Porter with Parents’ Rights in Education said. “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.'
The decision was made by HERC, which is in charge of deciding what Oregon's Medicaid plan will cover. With no public debate, it began covering cross-sex hormones, puberty-suppressing drugs and sex reassignment surgeries in January.
Transgender activist Jenn Burleton said not requiring parental permission will save lives through suicide prevention.
“Parents may not be supportive,” she claimed. “They may not be in an environment where they feel the parent will affirm their identity-this may have been going for years.”
The American Psychiatric Association classifies gender dysphoria as a mental disorder that affects 1 out of every 35,000 Americans.
The Oregon Health Authority could not say how many children have been treated by the state for gender dysphoria since January. HERC estimates it will lead to one less suicide attempt a year and cost about $150,000.