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Transitioning saved my daughter’s life. Other Kansas kids should have that opportunity.

In 2020, my 14-year-old daughter fell into a deep depression. She had always been a straight A student at the top of her class, yet her grades plummeted. She became isolated and withdrawn. She began self-harming to escape the pain. We sought professional help. She saw numerous psychologists, physicians and therapists.

At the heart of the matter, she realized her biological sex did not align with her gender identity.

Although her father and I both hold advanced degrees, we were dumbfounded when our daughter presented her feelings to us. It defied everything we had “heard” about being transgender. Although we always had choices in our home of “boy toys” and “girl toys,” she always migrated toward cars and superheroes. Our kids did not have social media, where the news media told us “fads” about gender were taking over. We had strict controls on internet usage.

Yet, we could not deny what was right in front of us. Our child had lost all joy and was struggling to survive.

We continued to meet with professionals for 18 months before medical interventions were considered. I learned at those appointments that my daughter took showers in the dark and couldn’t look in the mirror because the body she saw was a monster. It wasn’t until we all were in agreement that she started her medical transition, first with just a puberty blocker to stop the massive amounts of testosterone running through her body that conflicted with her identity as a young woman.

This was not a rash decision. We went through extensive informed consent. My daughter underwent rigorous psychological testing to affirm that she was indeed a girl. Her endocrinologist discussed side effects of every medication and treatment option in more detail than I have gotten from my own doctors for more risky medications and treatments.

After six months on the blocker, her doctor prescribed a tiny amount of estrogen. We slowly started seeing changes. We saw glimpses of the child we once knew.

These medications are life saving for my daughter. So much so that when the laws changed in Missouri last year preventing her from continuing to receive these medications (although we are Kansas residents, her endocrinologist was in Missouri) and with the passing of several bills targeting transgender individuals in Kansas, we made plans for her to move to a sanctuary state.

She finished her required high school classes in summer school, all while working full-time at a data science internship at a major hospital. She applied to colleges in June, was accepted, received scholarships, and began college in August at age 17.

She is in a much healthier place, both mentally and physically. She has flourished at a school and in a state that affirms her identity. When I pick her up from the airport, she talks nonstop, sharing the latest philosophy text she’s reading and the research she’s doing in biology and chemistry.

If laws like were in place when my daughter was struggling, I do not believe she would be here today. Since starting hormones, the only two times there has been a setback in self harm was when our elected government officials tried to stand in the way of medical care or there was a hate crime against the transgender community.

She had wonderful, supportive teachers and administrators at her high school. They used her correct pronouns and chosen name. This was extremely helpful for her mental health and self-esteem. She did, however, have one teacher who refused. That teacher misgendered her and other transgender individuals on a daily basis. If SB 233 is overridden, it would give teachers like this the permission to continue to discriminate and use hateful speech among some of our most vulnerable youth.

Our family had to make the difficult decision of moving our daughter out of Kansas. This is a decision that no family should have to make, but the current laws being passed by our Kansas lawmakers are bound to force more Kansans to leave.

Kansans should be allowed to continue to make health care decisions together with our team of professionals. Professionals should be allowed to continue to practice the medicine they have been trained to do. They are saving lives. And finally, teachers should not be given permission to use hate speech in the classroom.