Ban on gender-affirming health care for minors advances by Republicans in Senate committee
Lawmakers on a Louisiana Senate committee advanced a bill Friday that would ban gender-affirming health care for trans youth in Louisiana. After the bill was originally blocked last week in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, the Senate voted 26-12 Thursday to revive the legislation and transfer it to the Senate Judiciary A committee.
Republicans advanced the bill from that committee Friday without opposition and with no Democrats present for the hearing.
House Bill 648 by Rep. Michael “Gabe” Firment, R-Pollock, would prohibit gender-affirming health care for minors, including hormone therapy and reassignment surgery. It would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024 and give minors one year to wean off any gender-affirming medications.
The legislation was initially rejected last week in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee with a 5-4 vote. Chairman Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, joined Democrats in opposition to the ban.
That decision was promptly met with backlash from other Republicans in the state Legislature and national conservative figures.
Fred Mills has sided with the butchers and groomers. He will regret it. This is the biggest mistake of his political career, and also the end of his career. He’s going to be infamous and disgraced by his own base. We’ll make sure of that. https://t.co/ZiJFM9gScs— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) May 24, 2023
The Louisiana GOP and opponents of the bill have repeatedly referred to gender-affirming health care, which often includes hormone therapy and can include reassignment surgeries, as “experimental.”
“This legislation would prohibit genital mutilation surgery on minor children in Louisiana,” the Louisiana GOP said in a statement urging lawmakers to revive the bill after it was initially rejected.
In the same statement, the Louisiana GOP suggested the state could become a destination for reassignment surgeries if the ban is not passed because Louisiana’s neighboring states have passed similar bans.
But opponents of the ban have pointed out how rarely these surgeries take place. From 2017-2021, there were no gender-affirming surgeries performed on minors in Louisiana, according to a Louisiana Department of Health study published in 2022.
“It’s a solution looking for a problem,” Sen. Jay Luneau, D-Alexandria, said in the Health and Welfare meeting last week.
Opponents also say a ban on gender-affirming health care could be detrimental to trans youth’s mental health. And they have noted that less than 1% of people regret transitioning, according to multiple studies.
Most major medical associations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, support gender-affirming health care.
This bill is one of several anti-LGBTQ+ bills being pushed in the state Legislature this year. Lawmakers advanced two other anti-LGBTQ+ bills out of the Senate Education Committee Thursday.
Those pieces of legislation include a bill looking to end all classroom discussion of gender and sexual orientation in K-12 schools in Louisiana, which critics refer to as a “Don’t Say Gay” bill, and a bill that would require parent permission to use trans minors’ preferred pronouns.
Plus, a bill that would limit minors’ access to “sexually explicit material” in libraries has gained traction. LGBTQ+ advocates have criticized this bill, saying it could be used to target LGBTQ+ content.
All of these efforts are part of a larger, national push of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. According to the ACLU, 491 anti-LGBTQ+ bills, including 130 bills looking to restrict access to gender-affirming care, have been introduced across the country this year.
Several LGBTQ+ advocacy group leaders joined Rep. Delisha Boyd, D-New Orleans, on the steps of the state Capitol Thursday to speak against this legislation in Louisiana.
“It is appalling. It is harmful, and it is not a Louisiana value to discriminate,” Peyton Rose Michelle, executive director of the Louisiana Trans Advocates group, said of the anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. “It is so important that we stop these bills.”
All of these bills, including the gender-affirming health care ban, seem poised to gain final passage in the Legislature this year. Gov. John Bel Edwards has called much of this legislation unnecessary but has not said whether he would veto it.