Opinion | America needs to protect privacy rights for transgender youths

By Alice Lee, Senior Columnist

When it comes to the concept of privacy, one shouldn’t think of it as a privilege. The right to privacy is a guaranteed and fundamental liberty required for preserving the human condition with dignity and respect. 

Two weeks ago, the Ohio House Representatives announced legislation that would threaten this right for transgender youth. Their proposal to prohibit transgender youth under the age of 18 to receive healthcare that would help with gender reassignment surgery is a blatant violation of their constitutional liberties. 

Many bills proposed in other states, like South Carolina, are following a rise in gender-related legislation and have even stipulated criminal penalties for medical providers who offer these services to transgender youth. These proposed bills argue the surgical procedures involved in gender-affirming care is unsafe and don’t reflect the best possible medical practices.

The issue with this line of reasoning is it is inconsistent with the medical expertise of professionals. The process to undergo gender reassignment surgery is developed over an extended period of time, with special care taken to ensure the best possible options are given to each personal case.

The state of healthcare in America is already a controversial topic to begin with, but when vulnerable youth are included in the equation, it’s difficult to comprehend how withholding life-changing medical care can be seen as a good thing. 

In our country, it’s an unstated yet mostly universal understanding that one’s personal information is protected from public scrutiny. The right to privacy is inherently present in many facets of day-to-day life and protects everyday citizens from government intrusion and allows them to make their own decisions. 

Individual autonomy is so embedded within American culture that it is often considered a serious offense in public opinion when privacy lines are crossed. The importance of recognizing this right doesn’t just end at the hospital doors. 

Medical privacy and the freedom of choice are foundational liberties extended to all human beings in the U.S. Transgender youth should not be excluded from these basic rights that solely exist for the purpose of protecting individual choice and human dignity. 

An analysis of historical Supreme Court cases concerning the right to privacy shows rulings in favor of upholding individual privacy in cases of conflict with state interests. Griswold v. Connecticut, Roe v. Wade and Lawrence v. Texas, just to name a few, have all recognized the right of privacy for individuals to make their own decisions regarding the use of contraceptives, abortion and same-sex relations, respectively.

The narrative of American history thus far has emphasized the message of choice and freedom; the spirit of American liberty lies in the fact that citizens have the right to privacy in their lives. It would be tremendously disappointing if our current political system were to regress to times when these rights did not receive as much recognition.

Alice is a sophomore in LAS.

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