States target transgender healthcare in first 2023 bills

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after one midterm election and a record flow of anti-transgender legislation last year, Republican state legislators are focusing this year on issues of bodily autonomy with new proposals to limit access to abortion and gender-affirming health care.

More than two dozen bills seeking to restrict access to healthcare for transgender people have been introduced in 11 states (Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Virginia) for legislative sessions beginning in early 2023.

Bills targeting other facets of trans livelihoods have been introduced in many of the same states and are expected in several others with Republican majorities.

Gender-affirming health care providers and parents of transgender youth are prime targets of these bills, many of which seek to criminalize helping a transgender child obtain what doctors and psychologists generally consider to be “medical care.” necessary”.

Erin Reed, a researcher who tracks transgender legislation, said state legislatures where Republicans widened their margins in the midterms are likely to double down on anti-trans legislation this year and reintroduce some of the more drastic measures that failed in previous sessions.

Of the 35 anti-LGBTQ bills already introduced in Texas, three would classify the provision of gender-affirming care to minors as a form of child abuse, following a last year's directive from Republican Gov. Greg Abbott which ordered child welfare officers to open abuse investigations into parents who allow their children to receive gender-affirming care.

In Tennessee, the GOP-controlled legislature announced after Election Day that its first priority would be to ban medical providers from altering a child's hormones or performing surgeries that allow them to present as a gender other than their gender. The previously submitted bill it would replace the current law with more stringent restrictions.

The World Professional Association for Transgender Health said last year that adolescents experiencing dysphoria genders can start taking hormones at age 14 and can have certain surgeries at age 15 or 17. The group acknowledged the potential risks, but said it was unethical to withhold early treatments, which can improve psychological well-being and reduce the risk of suicide.

Legislation introduced earlier this week in Republican-controlled Oklahoma, which passed restrictions last year on trans participation in sports Y the use of school bathrooms seeks to ban gender-affirming care for patients under 26 years and avoid being covered by the state Medicaid program. .

“This is the worst anti-trans bill I have ever seen introduced in any state,” Reed said, noting that the adult medical transition bans were a “hypothetical escalation” until recently.

Another Oklahoma proposal prohibit the distribution of public funds to organizations that provide gender affirmation procedures to patients under the age of 21.

“It is irresponsible for someone in health care to provide or recommend life-changing surgeries and then regret it,” said the bill's sponsor, Republican state Rep. Jim Olsen. "Performing irreversible procedures on young people can cause irreparable damage mentally and physically later in life."

A similar bill previously introduced in South Carolina, where Republicans control both chambers, also requires that trans adults 21+ get referrals from their doctor and a licensed psychiatrist before treatment can begin.

Cathy Renna, a spokeswoman for the National LGBTQ Task Force, said she sees these bills as the product of "an allowable climate of hate," fueled by misinformation and scaremongering, that made anti-LGBTQ rhetoric more acceptable in the United States. Years since former President Donald Trump's election in 2016.

“We have politicians, celebrities and ordinary people in our communities who have been given permission by Trump to fool around and do and say harmful things without consequence,” Renna said. "He unleashed a nightmarish Pandora's box of sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, anti-Semitism."

“When you look at the last few years,” he said of the LGBTQ community, “we feel like we're under attack in a way we haven't in decades.”

Meanwhile, Democrats in some states are taking a more aggressive approach to health protections for transgender people.

A new California law, effective January 1, protects families of transgender youth from criminal prosecution if they are traveling to California for gender-affirming health procedures, such as surgery or hormone therapy, from states that prohibit such treatment for minors. Making California a haven for trans youth and their parents, the law blocks out-of-state subpoenas and prohibits medical providers from sharing gender-affirming care information with out-of-state entities.

another project of california law filed in December, would expand those protections by barring a magistrate from issuing an arrest warrant for violating another state's law that criminalizes helping someone obtain an abortion or gender-affirming care.

An Illinois legislator introduced a bill of a similar sanctuary late last year. The The state House of Representatives passed another bill on Friday to increase protections for patients and providers of abortions and gender-affirming treatments.

And in Minnesota, where Democrats won a trifecta of control of state government in the midterm elections, a new draft of law would give the state jurisdiction over child custody cases involving parents who bring their children to Minnesota for gender-affirming health care.

Reed, a trans woman, is monitoring a growing list of other bills in state chambers, including drag performance bans, restroom restrictions, limits on LGBTQ discussion in schools and obstacles to changing the gender score. gender on a driver's license or birth certificate. But raising the proposed minimum age for access to gender-affirming care is among her top concerns.

“Adult transition bans are coming into play, and I'm already hearing talk about, 'Well, the brain doesn't finish developing until age 25, so why not restrict it until then?'” he said. "Any further loss of autonomy is incredibly worrying."

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