While transgender rights are being expanded by the Biden administration in Washington, D.C., bills have been introduced in more than a dozen state legislatures that would narrow rights for transgender persons, especially minors, and for their parents and caregivers.
This year’s proposed state legislation — all of which faces uncertain reception — largely focuses on medical procedures and athletic events. So far, state legislators have not put forth an aggressive effort to pass so-called “bathroom bills” as in several recent legislative sessions. Such bills could still be filed, but for now, Indiana is the only state with a specific bathroom bill on the docket.
The most common theme this year is prohibiting transgender minors from taking any medical actions toward changing their gender identity and in some cases classifying such actions as “child abuse.” Medical interventions for minors are controversial even within the transgender community, as most older transgender advocates recommend against surgical interventions until after puberty.
The most common theme this year is prohibiting transgender minors from taking any medical actions toward changing their gender identity and in some cases classifying such actions as “child abuse.”
However, an academic study by the Hastings Center published by the National Library of Medicine notes: “Most people would not contend that this fluidity (of adolescence) is reason to wholly deny certain medical care such as hormonal treatments to transgender youth, a demographic with extremely high rates of violent behavior, self-harm, and suicide.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement in 2018 that affirmed the use of puberty blockers for youth with gender dysphoria. And a study published in 2020 found that transgender youth who wanted puberty blockers and got them were less likely to have suicidal thoughts later on in life.
Thus, medical professionals often deem non-surgical medical interventions as appropriate for pubescent teenagers who are experiencing gender dysphoria, which leads to a disproportionately high suicide rate. In multiple states, proposed legislation would take such decisions for medical care out of the hands of trained physicians and therapists by state mandate.
In some states, proposed legislation also would tie the hands of parents by holding them liable for efforts to address their child’s gender dysphoria.
Here is a rundown of proposed legislation in 13 states to date:
In Indiana, three bills targeting transgender rights have been introduced: House Bill 1456 concerns the use of public restrooms; House Bill 1505 concerns minors “transitioning to the opposite sex”; and Senate Bill 224 concerns prohibited services relating to the care of minors.
The restroom bill creates a misdemeanor offense for any “male knowingly or intentionally” entering a restroom “designated to be used only by females” or for any “female knowingly or intentionally” entering a restroom “designated to be used only by males.”
This bill defines a “female” as someone who “was born female at birth” or “has at least one X chromosome and no Y chromosome.” Likewise, it defines “male” as someone who “was born male at birth” or “has at least one X chromosome and at least one Y chromosome.” The bill’s sponsor is Rep. Bruce Borders, a Republican.
The bill on transitioning genders would prohibit any health care professional from providing “medical or surgical treatment … with the intent of assisting the minor in physically transitioning to a gender that is inconsistent with the minor’s biological sex.” It would specifically outlaw 13 medical procedures in such cases. The bill’s sponsor is John Jacob, a newly elected Republican.
The Senate bill touches on similar issues as the second House bill but with broader language. It says a health care professional “may not purposely attempt to change, reinforce, or affirm a minor’s perception of the minor’s own sexual attraction or sexual behavior, or attempt to change, reinforce, or affirm a minor’s gender identity when the identity is inconsistent with the minor’s biological sex.” As with the House bill, it would outlaw 13 specific medical procedures in such cases. The bill’s sponsor is Republican Sen. Dennis Kruse.
In Oklahoma, House Bill 1004 would explicitly allow so-called “conversion therapy,” an evangelical Christian counseling practice now widely discredited as ineffective and harmful.
This bill, dubbed the “Parental and Family Rights in Counseling Protection Act,” would make it illegal for government to “restrict any mental health provider or religious advisor from providing counseling or any patient or client from receiving counseling intended to aid patients or clients in their self-determined objectives of reducing, eliminating, resolving, or addressing unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviors, identity, sexual or gender-identity expressions, or unwanted gender dysphoria.”
“A mental health provider or religious advisor shall have the liberty to use any therapy they choose.”
Further, it states: “A mental health provider or religious advisor shall have the liberty to use any therapy they choose, provided that it is in the best interest of the client and within the ethical bounds of the profession.”
The Oklahoma bill also would provide protection for parents and legal guardians who seek counseling and therapies to eliminate same-sex attraction for minors in their care.
However, the bill does put a limit on techniques allowed — despite the earlier provision to use “any therapy they choose” — to disqualify what it calls “aversion therapy,” defined by the bill as “counseling by a mental health provider that exposes or asks a patient or client to undergo physical pain, such as electroshock or electroconvulsive therapy, touch therapy, pornography exposure, or vomit-induction therapy.”
The bill characterizes this issue as an “emergency,” which would allow the new law to take immediate effect upon adoption.
This bill is sponsored by Rep. Jim Olsen, a Republican representing East central Oklahoma who ran unopposed in the 2020 election.
In Texas, Republican Rep. Steve Toth of suburban Houston has introduced House Bill 68, which would redefine “abuse of a child” to include certain actions by medical personnel, counselors and parents working with transgender children.
The bill would outlaw certain “acts by a medical professional or mental health professional for the purpose of attempting to change or affirm a child’s perception of the child’s sex, if that perception is inconsistent with the child’s biological sex as determined by the child’s sex organs, chromosomes, and endogenous hormone profiles.”
Forbidden acts would include “surgery that sterilizes the child, including castration, vasectomy, hysterectomy, oophorectomy, metoidioplasty, orchiectomy, penectomy, phalloplasty, and vaginoplasty; a mastectomy.”
Also forbidden would be “administering or supplying” medications such as puberty-blockers, testosterone given to biological females, estrogen given to biological males, as well as “removing any otherwise healthy or non-diseased body part or tissue.”
Toth’s House website describes him as a small business owner who is “consistently ranked as one of the most conservative legislators in the Texas Capitol.”
In Missouri, House Bill 33 would create one of the strictest enforcements on treating transgender youth, including punishment for parents who seek such treatment.
The bill would prohibit physicians, surgeons and nurses “from administering puberty blockers, prescribing hormone therapy, performing a vaginoplasty, orchiectomy, metoidioplasty, phalloplasty, or hysterectomy, or performing other genital or hormonal interventions for the purpose of gender reassignment for a child.”
Licensed medical professionals who violate this mandate would lose their licenses.
Licensed medical professionals who violate this mandate would lose their licenses. And any parent or guardian of a minor “shall be reported to the children’s division … if he or she obtains (such) medical or surgical treatment” for their own child. The bill’s sponsor is Republican Rep. Suzie Pollock.
In Mississippi, Republican Sen. Angela Hill has introduced Senate Bill 2536 as the “Mississippi Fairness Act,” that would require any public school or institution of higher learning “to designate its athletic teams or sports according to biological sex.”
The bill includes background language explaining an “inherent difference” between biological males and females.
Hill also has introduced a bill banning “female genital mutilation” and Senate Bill 2171 to create the “Transgender 21 Act.” The latter would prohibit the state from “infringing on a parent’s right to withhold consent for any treatment, activity or mental health care services that are designed and intended to form their child’s conceptions of sex and gender or to treat gender dysphoria or gender nonconformity.” It also would prohibit “certain medical procedures from being performed upon a minor” and create penalties for medical professionals who perform those procedures, similar to the proposed Texas bill.
The “Transgender 21 Act” also would require any government agent with “knowledge that a minor under its care or supervision has exhibited symptoms of gender dysphoria, gender nonconformity, or otherwise demonstrates a desire to be treated in a manner incongruent with the minor’s sex” to immediately notify the minor’s parents or guardian.
In Alabama, identical legislation been introduced as House Bill 1 and Senate Bill 10 titled the “Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act.” These bills would prohibit the “performance of a medical procedure or the prescription or issuance of medication, upon or to a minor child, that is intended to alter the minor child’s gender or delay puberty.”
These bills would prohibit the “performance of a medical procedure or the prescription or issuance of medication, upon or to a minor child, that is intended to alter the minor child’s gender or delay puberty.”
Sponsors are Reps. Wes Allen, Chip Brown, Mike Holmes, Arnold Mooney, Phillip Pettus, and Sen. Shay Shelnutt. All are Republicans.
In Kentucky, Senate Bill 83 sponsored by Republican Sen. Steve Meredith of Leitchfield would grant any “medical practitioner, health care institution or health care payer” the right not to participate in or pay for any health care service that violates his, her or its conscience.
Presumably, that would give health care providers, clinics, hospitals and even insurers the ability to deny services or treatments to patients when they find these unconscionable, which could include gay, lesbian and transgender patients.
In Utah, House Bill 92 would prohibit a physician or surgeon from “performing a transgender procedure on a minor.”
This bill would define “attempted sex change” as “an attempt or effort to change an individual’s body to present that individual as being of a sex or gender that is different from the individual’s biological sex at birth.” And it would define “biological sex at birth” as “an individual’s sex, as being male or female, according to distinct reproductive roles as manifested by sex and reproductive organ anatomy, chromosomal makeup, and endogenous hormone profiles.”
The bill’s sponsors are Republican Reps. Rex Shipp and Curt Bramble.
In South Dakota, House Bill 1076 would make it impossible to change a person’s gender designation on a birth certificate. The bill states: “There is no statutory authorization for the sex designation on a birth certificate to be amended based upon the person’s subjective identification of sex, when that identification is inconsistent with the person’s objective, biological sex.” And: “A person’s subjective identification of sex, if inconsistent with the person’s objective, biological sex, does not change the person’s sex.”
The bill states: “A person’s subjective identification of sex, if inconsistent with the person’s objective, biological sex, does not change the person’s sex.”
The bill’s 16 Republican sponsors are Fred Deutsch, John Wiik, Julie Frye-Mueller, Tim Goodwin, Brock Greenfield, Lana Greenfield, Charles Hoffman, Taffy Howard, Kevin Jensen, Phil Jensen, John Mills, Rhonda Milstead, Scott Odenbach, Tom Pischke, Bethany Soye and Jim Stalzer.
In North Dakota, House Bill 1298 concerns athletic events and athletic event facilities for any entity that receives funding from the state, which would include all public schools and universities.
These schools and entities may not allow “an individual who was assigned the opposite sex at birth to participate on an athletic team … which is exclusively for females or exclusively for males.” Nor may they “sponsor an athletic event exclusively for males or exclusively for females that allows participation by an individual who was assigned the opposite sex at birth.” Nor may they allow an “athletic facility, stadium, field, structure or other property to be used for an athletic event “in which an individual who was assigned the opposite sex at birth is allowed to participate in an athletic event conducted exclusively for males or exclusively for females.”
The bill defines a person’s gender as “the sex assigned at birth” and “indicated on the individual’s original birth certificate issued at the time of birth.”
This bill has 10 Republican sponsors: Ben Koppelman, Lisa Meier, Bob Paulson, Austen Schauer, Kathy Skroch, Vicky Steiner, Steve Vetter, David Clemens, Jordan Kannianen and Janne Myrdal.
In Montana, House Bill 112 would create the “Save Women’s Sports Act” and provide that any sports team sponsored by a public school or university — or any other school competing against such public schools — must clearly designate their teams as being for males, females or coed, and that teams “designated for females, women or girls may not be open to students of the male sex.”
The bill’s sponsor is Republican Rep. John Fuller.
In New Hampshire, House Bill 198 would bar anyone who is “a biological male by birth” from participating in all-female high school and postsecondary sports. The text of the bill states: “Single-sex athletics is rooted in the reality of biological differences between the sexes and is rooted in objective biological fact and fairness.”
The bill has eight Republican sponsors: Rick Ladd, Ralph Boehm, Glenn Cordelli, Greg Hill, Alicia Lekas, Jeanine Notter, Mark Pearson and James Spillane.
House Bill 68 would redefine “child abuse” to include minors being “subjected to drug treatments or surgery in an attempt to alter the sex of the child assigned at birth,
Also, House Bill 68 would redefine “child abuse” to include minors being “subjected to drug treatments or surgery in an attempt to alter the sex of the child assigned at birth, except in rare cases of ambiguous genitalia.”
The bill’s sponsors is Republican Dave Testerman.
In New Jersey, Assembly Bill 4593, the only one of the state bills sponsored by a Democrat, takes on an entirely different subject than the other bills. The same bill has been introduced in the state Senate.
Valerie Vainieri Huttle’s bill addresses strip searches of transgender inmates. While on the one hand allowing the inmate to express a gender preference for who conducts the strip search, the bill also would allow correctional officers to opt out of such searches if they have religious or personal beliefs against such things.
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