Science Friday

Gender-Affirming Health Care, Defining ‘Life’. April 23, 2021, Part 2

April 23, 2021

Proposed Legislation Threatens Trans Rights Nationwide

Since the start of the 2021 legislative session, members of more than 30 state legislatures have proposed over 100 bills that would limit transgender children’s ability to play sports, or access gender-affirming medical care such as puberty blocking medications. One such proposal, restricting access to gender-affirming medical treatments for anyone under 18, passed the Arkansas State Legislature earlier this month, over the veto of Republican governor Asa Hutchinson.

Ira talks to Kate Sosin, LGBTQ+ reporter for The 19th News, about the scope of bills limiting access to medical care. Sosin explains why lawmakers say they’re pushing them—and what misconceptions about both trans kids and trans adults may be fueling these proposals

We had editing and consultation help for this segment from Jaye McAuliffe.


Why Gender-Affirming Healthcare Is ‘Lifesaving Care’

State legislatures around the country are proposing bills to remove access to gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth. Meanwhile, doctors, parents, and trans adults warn that restricting access to commonplace interventions, like puberty blocking medications, will endanger the mental health and social well-being of trans children across the country. 

Learn more about the bills passing through statehouses this year.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the Pediatric Endocrine Society have all condemned bills like Arkansas’ AB1570, which passed the state legislature in early April. It prohibits healthcare providers from giving puberty blockers or gender-affirming hormones to anyone under the age of 18. The World Professional Organization For Transgender Healthcare (WPATH), which produces standards of care for transgender youth and adults, has stated that the ability to pause puberty supports the mental health of trans youth while they navigate their gender identities.

Ira talks to pediatric endocrinologist Kara Connelly and family therapist Alex Iantaffi about their work with trans youth, and what gender-affirming health care provides, to young people and throughout a person’s lifespan

We had editing and consultation help for this segment from Jaye McAuliffe.


What Does It Mean To Be Alive?

What is life? This question has caused headaches for humanity for centuries. But if it’s taken out of philosophy classes or past Frankenstein’s monster, this question becomes an important legal and biological discussion. If we’re searching for life on other planets, how will we know when we’ve found it?

Scientists throughout history have come up with what they think the constraints of life are, whether it needs to meet certain physiological criteria, or reproduce. But despite hundreds, if not thousands of theories that have been proposed, the scientific community can’t come to a consensus about what makes something alive.

The complexities of defining life are the subject of the new book, Life’s Edge: The Search For What It Means To Be Alive, by New York Times science columnist and author Carl Zimmer. He joins Ira to talk about the creatures that complicate our understanding of life, and if synthetic biology and artificial intelligence might ever be classified as alive.

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