The American Medical Association (AMA), the country's largest association of physicians, took several steps this week to support the transgender and gender-nonconforming community.
At the 2017 AMA Annual Meeting in Chicago, the organization adopted a resolution titled “Access to Basic Human Services for Transgender Individuals," which opposes controversial state "bathroom bills" that prevent transgender people from accessing public facilities that align with their gender identity.
In a statement emailed to NBC Out, Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, a physician and AMA board member, said the organization’s main motivation in adopting this policy was “to protect the public health and to promote social equality and safe access to public facilities and services.”
“Laws and policies that restrict the use of public facilities based on biological gender can have immediate and lingering physical consequences, as well as severe mental health repercussions” Dr. Ehrenfeld added.
The AMA House of Delegates (HOD), the organization’s policy-making body, also called upon the AMA to work with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to establish gender-neutral patient categories in Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) programs.
"The idea is to take the focus away from gender identity and place it on reproductive potential. That is because there are patients who identify as male who may be taking medication that puts them at risk for damage to their biologically female reproductive systems," an AMA statement explained.
In another resolution, titled “Medical Spectrum of Gender,” the delegates stated that gender is “incompletely understood as a binary selection” and urged the AMA to work with organizations that can help “inform and educate the medical community and the public on the medical spectrum of gender identity.”
National LGBTQ advocacy groups, including the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), praised the AMA for throwing its support behind the transgender and gender-nonconforming community.
“The AMA's recognition that gender is not binary reflects today's medical consensus and underscores that all people deserve respect, including transgender men and women as well as those whose gender is not male or female,” Harper Jean Tobin, director of policy at NCTE, told NBC Out.
Tobin also applauded the AMA for "taking a strong stand against discriminatory proposals like Texas' SB6," one of the so-called "bathroom bills" introduced across the U.S.
Beth Maxwell, a senior vice president at HRC, said her organization "welcomes this week’s resolutions by the AMA that underscore the need for inclusive, affirming policies to ensure transgender people’s wellbeing, safety and health."