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As a result of what is happening in our country, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has declared a national state of emergency for all Americans in the LGBTQIA+ community.

Artwork by Mecca Robnison-Jahi 

A Look at the Flurry of Anti-Trans Healthcare Bills — State By State

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Over the past year, I have been on edge with the many anti-trans healthcare bills being passed across the United States. There has been a large influx of transgender care for minors being banned and forced into medical detransition. It’s gotten to the point where some trans youth have been taken from their families in Florida and marked as wards of the state for getting parental support in receiving transgender healthcare. State governments seem to be using banning youth queer and trans healthcare as a gateway in moving forward with banning trans adult healthcare. As a result of what is happening in our country, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has declared a national state of emergency for all Americans in the LGBTQIA+ community. Fortunately, there are some states who want to protect queer and trans people, so they are passing shield laws or executive orders that prevent and block the bans. 

 When talking to my LGBTQIA+ peers, it’s evident that queer teens and young adults are not at all happy about the bills being passed. Noni Vaughn (she/her/hers), who is a 21-year-old senior at Agnes Scott College from Atlanta, talked with me about how she doesn’t see why the Republican lawmakers can channel this much hatred for a group of people into written laws. When asked if she feels like a doctor could potentially discriminate against her based on an assumption of queer identity, Noni says that “Although I’ve never experienced it, the thought has crossed my mind.” Ren Wheatly (they/them/theirs), a 19-year-old student at Tennessee University, who is from Indianapolis, discussed how they are terrified by the laws being passed. Ren clearly sees that this is evidence of society going back to times when queer identities were illegal. They aren’t transgender but as a nonbinary person, Ren constantly gets their gender assumed because of their feminine presenting style of clothing. They do not have thoughts of healthcare professionals assuming a queer identity on them, but state that “I start my introduction with ‘my name is, and my pronouns are …’ just to make sure there aren’t any assumptions.”

Both Ren and Noni had similar statements regarding whether or not they felt safe walking in their city. They both agree that it depends on what part of Atlanta or Indianapolis they’re in. What a lot of the legislators do not understand is that they make these laws supposedly protecting youth, but many queer teens are actually experiencing more stress with the many laws being passed. Because of this, I decided to look closely into the state laws being proposed and passed relating to anti-queer and transgender healthcare in the United States.   

The following section will report on the status of anti-trans/queer healthcare laws in their respective states as of this summer. 

Alabama

As of April of 2023, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed two bills that directly impact transgender minors, and their doctors. The first one took effect on May 7, 2023, and SB 184 says that any doctor who provides puberty blockers or hormones to trans children will be charged with a class C felony and will face up to 10 years in prison. A quote from the governor states, “If the good lord made you a boy, you are a boy, and if he made you a girl, you are a girl.” The Department of Justice filed a complaint against this bill on the grounds of the bill violating the equal protection clause in the 14th Amendment where discrimination against trans children is considered unconstitutional. HB 322 essentially forces transgender children to only use the bathroom based on their birth-recorded sex and also prohibits the discussion of gender and sexual identity in K-5th grades. 

Arkansas

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In Arkansas, they made headlines in 2021 as the first state to ban gender-affirming healthcare for minors calling it the “Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act” or Act 626. This act was blocked permanently based on the grounds that Act 626 violates the equal protection clause in the 14th Amendment. The block took place in June 2023. 

Florida

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis banned gender affirming care for minors in April of 2023 and also included other extreme measures in the bill. It detailed how healthcare providers who fail to comply will be charged with a felony and also takes parental rights from parents who even are accused of considering gender affirming care for their children. This new law also required adults who would like to receive transgender healthcare to sign a consent form and only receive said care in person under the supervision of a physician. The following month after the bill went into effect, four families of transgender children sued the state over the new laws with their children’s healthcare rights in mind. Healthcare providers were left confused following the temporary injunction of the bill in June. Since the bill did not apply to minors receiving care before it was passed they were left wondering if the state would still charge them with felonies. 

Georgia

On Saturday, July 1, 2023, SB 140 went into effect in Georgia. This bill prohibits minors from receiving specifically gender-affirming surgeries. It details how there will be potential amendments to include the exception of medically necessary gender-affirming surgeries. On Thursday, June 29th, four Georgia families filed a lawsuit against this bill to get a court-ordered block before the July 1st date. A judge ruled however, that it was too late for a temporary injunction to be put in place. As of now, it is illegal to get gender affirming care as a minor in Georgia. Court proceedings pertaining to the lawsuit are still pending. 

Idaho

Gender Affirming healthcare for minors in Idaho will be banned on January 1, 2024. The bill is written the same as the one in Alabama stating that any healthcare provider found guilty of breaking this law will be convicted as a felon and face 10 years in prison. There are exceptions to the bill that include Intersex people or others who have medically verifiable disorders and require gender-affirming surgeries. 

Indiana

In April of 2023, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed a bill that bans minors from accessing gender-affirming healthcare. This bill also allows medically detransitioned children already taking hormone therapies to detransition by the end of the year. Soon after this was signed, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana fired back in a lawsuit, and on June 16, 2023, the bill was blocked by federal courts. The anti-trans healthcare bill was originally set to go into effect on July 1, 2023. 

Iowa

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In Iowa, Governor Kim Reynolds signed a gender-affirming healthcare ban for minors and a law stating that transgender students in public schools, can’t use the bathroom with the gender they identify as. She notably met with parents of trans children and had a discussion with them before signing the bills. 

Kentucky

A bill in Kentucky was temporarily blocked recently in June 2023. The bill would have banned puberty blockers and hormone therapies. The part of the bill that is still in effect is trans minors’ access to gender-affirming surgeries.

 Louisiana

In May of 2023, lawmakers in the state of Louisiana drafted HB 648 which bans healthcare providers from providing gender-affirming care to minors, but it ended up being blocked. However, it was reintroduced a week later and was voted on to reach the governor’s desk. The bill ended up being passed with enough votes to override the governor’s veto and is now law in Louisiana. 

 Mississippi

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves signed a law that bans gender-affirming healthcare for minors in the state. This law went into effect in February 2023. 

Missouri

In June of 2023, Missouri passed a law that prohibits healthcare professionals from giving minors access to healthcare. The new law also bans gender affirming care for inmates and prisoners as well as prohibiting Medicaid to cover access for adults. Three families have now sued the state in an effort to stop the bill from taking effect Aug. 28.

Montana

In late April 2023, the governor of Montana approved and signed into law a bill that bans transgender minors from accessing gender-affirming care. It is notable that Representative Zooey Zephyr (D-Missoula) who opposed the bill was silenced by the House Speaker after speaking out against it. In May 2023, two families and two healthcare providers in that state sued Montana on the grounds that the bill violates parental rights. 

Nebraska

Governor Jim Pillen of Nebraska signed a bill that includes a strict abortion ban and prohibits transgender people under 19 years old to access gender-affirming healthcare. The anti-trans portion of the bill is set to go into effect in October of 2023. 

New Hampshire

New Hampshire introduced a bill that would ban gender affirming healthcare for minors, and also declare it child abuse. As of deadline for this article, it has not been voted on or passed. 

North Dakota

Governor Doug Burgum signed a bill in April of 2023 banning minors from having access to gender affirming care. This bill went into effect as soon as it was signed, and included charging medical professionals with a felony if they fail to comply. it is notable that minors in North Dakota currently receiving gender affirming treatments prior to the passing of the bill are able to continue with it. 

Ohio

Ohio House of representatives re-introduced the Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act that would ban gender affirming care for minors. This bill made a comeback after failing to pass in 2022. There have been hearings of public testimony regarding the bill in June of 2023. 

South Carolina

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Recently in March of 2023, a bill that would ban minors access to gender affirming care has advanced in the South Carolina Senate. The bill includes banning hormone therapies, surgeries, and puberty blockers of any kind. 

South Dakota

Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota signed a bill that bans minors access to gender affirming healthcare. It went into effect February of 2023. 

Tennessee

In March of 2023, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed SB1 which completely bans gender affirming care for minors as well as gives patients the ability to sue medical providers for up to 30 years after they turn 18. The following month, LGBTQIA+ organizations and Tennessee families along with the Department of Justice (DOJ) sued Tennessee ahead of the July 1, 2023 date it would go into effect. The lawsuit details how the bill violates the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution and gives examples of how it can cause more harm than good. In June, a federal judge did temporarily block the part of the ban that restricts hormone therapies and puberty blockers, but unfortunately the state decided to let the bill pass July 1, despite the pending trial. Minors who are currently receiving gender affirming care in Tennessee have until March of 2024 to discontinue care. Currently the trial related to the DOJ suing the state is still pending. 

Texas

The Texas Governor Greg Abbott, signed a bill on June 2 that restricts minors from accessing transgender healthcare. This means that children receiving gender affirming care will have to be weaned off all treatments and medicines. Earlier in September of 2022, the state was blocked from directing the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFP) from opening cases of child abuse against families a part of PFLAG (a queer advocacy group) who had transgender children. Former Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton who has since been impeached from office appealed this injunction in March of 2023. 

Utah

In January of 2023, Utah governor Spencer Cox signed a bill banning gender affirming surgeries for minors. It bill also prohibits healthcare providers from giving hormone therapy to minors not diagnosed with gender dysphoria. 

Virginia

The Virginia Senate introduced SB791 which would ban minors access to gender affirming surgeries. The bill would also let patients or parents of the patients sue medical providers for giving them this care 20 years after they turn 18. Currently this bill has not been called for a vote. 

West Virginia

Governor Jim Justice of West Virginia passed a law banning gender affirming care for minors. Notably, the bill does permit hormone therapy if a minor is at risk of harming themselves or committing suicide. 

Wisconsin

The Wisconsin senate introduced a bill in March of 2022 that bans minors from receiving gender affirming surgeries. This bill has not had any further action taken on it since. 

Here are additional resources for LGBTQIA+ healthcare maps: 

https://www.lgbtmap.org/equality-maps/healthcare_youth_medical_care_bans

https://www.lgbtmap.org/equality-maps/healthcare/trans_shield_laws

To keep track of Georgia’s anti-trans legislation, follow advocacy nonprofit Georgia Equality on Instagram or by visiting their website.

 

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