States target transgender health care in first bills of 2023

Jan 6, 2023, 3:20 PM | Updated: Jan 7, 2023, 5:50 am
FILE - The Utah State Capitol is shown on Feb. 1, 2022, in Salt Lake City. After a midterm election...

FILE - The Utah State Capitol is shown on Feb. 1, 2022, in Salt Lake City. After a midterm election and record flow of anti-transgender legislation in 2022, Republican state lawmakers this year are zeroing in on questions of bodily autonomy with new proposals to limit gender-affirming health care and abortion access. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

              FILE - Zooey Zephyr, right, attends a legislative training session at the state Capitol in Helena, Mont., on Nov. 16, 2022. Zephyr, who is one of the first two transgender candidates elected to the Montana Legislature, says she hopes her presence will help fellow lawmakers better understand the trans community and lead them to avoid proposing legislation that can legitimize violence against the transgender community. (Thom Bridge/Independent Record via AP, File)
            
              FILE - The Utah State Capitol is shown on Feb. 1, 2022, in Salt Lake City. After a midterm election and record flow of anti-transgender legislation in 2022, Republican state lawmakers this year are zeroing in on questions of bodily autonomy with new proposals to limit gender-affirming health care and abortion access. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

After a midterm election and record flow of anti-transgender legislation last year, Republican state lawmakers this year are zeroing in on questions of bodily autonomy with new proposals to limit gender-affirming health care and abortion access.

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

Bills targeting other facets of trans livelihood have been filed in many of the same states and are expected in several others with GOP majorities.

Gender-affirming health care providers and parents of trans youths are the primary targets of these bills, many of which seek to criminalize helping a trans child obtain what doctors and psychologists widely consider “medically necessary care.”

Erin Reed, a researcher who tracks transgender legislation, said statehouses where Republicans expanded their margins in the midterms will likely double down on anti-trans legislation this year and reintroduce some of the more drastic measures that didn’t pass in previous sessions.

Of the 35 anti-LGBTQ bills already introduced in Texas, three would classify providing gender-affirming care to minors as a form of child abuse, following a directive last year from Republican Gov. Greg Abbott that ordered child welfare agents to open abuse investigations into parents who let their children 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 enable them to present as a gender different from their sex. The pre-filed bill would replace present law with more stringent restrictions.

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

Legislation pre-filed this week in Republican-controlled Oklahoma, which passed restrictions last year on trans participation in sports and school bathroom usage, seeks to ban gender-affirming care for patients under age 26 and block it from being covered under the state’s Medicaid program.

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

Another Oklahoma proposal would prohibit distribution of public funds to organizations that provide gender-affirming procedures to patients younger than 21.

“It’s irresponsible for anybody in health care to provide or recommend life-altering surgeries that may later be regretted,” said the bill’s sponsor, Republican state Rep. Jim Olsen. “Performing irreversible procedures on young people can do irreparable harm to them mentally and physically later in life.”

A similar bill pre-filed in South Carolina, where Republicans control both chambers, also requires that trans adults older than 21 obtain referrals from their doctor and a licensed psychiatrist before they can begin treatment.

Cathy Renna, spokesperson for the National LGBTQ Task Force, said she views these bills as the product of “a permissible climate of hate,” driven by disinformation and fearmongering, that made anti-LGBTQ rhetoric more palatable in the years since former President Donald Trump’s election in 2016.

“We have politicians, celebrities and just folks in our communities who were given permission under Trump to kind of pick that scab and do and say harmful things without consequence,” Renna said. “It unleashed a nightmare Pandora’s box of sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, antisemitism.”

“When you look at the last few years,” she said of the LGBTQ community, “we feel like we’re under attack in a way that we have not for decades.”

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

A new California law, effective as of Jan. 1, shields families of transgender youth from criminal prosecution if they travel to California for gender-affirming health procedures, such as surgeries or hormone therapy, from states that ban such treatments for minors. Making California a refuge for trans youth and their parents, the law blocks out-of-state subpoenas and prohibits medical providers from sharing information on gender-affirming care with out-of-state entities.

Another California bill, filed in December, would expand those protections by prohibiting 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 lawmaker introduced a similar sanctuary bill late last year. The state House passed another bill Friday to increase protections for patients and providers of abortions and gender-affirming treatments.

And in Minnesota, where Democrats gained a trifecta of state government control in the midterm elections, a new bill would give the state jurisdiction in 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 proposals across statehouses, including drag performance bans, bathroom usage restrictions, limits on LGBTQ discussions in schools and obstacles to changing the gender marker on a driver’s license or birth certificate. But the rising age minimums proposed to access gender-affirming care are among her chief concerns.

“Adult transition bans are coming into play, and I’m already hearing some talk of, ‘Well, the brain doesn’t finish developing until 25, so why not restrict it until then,'” she said. “Any further loss of autonomy is incredibly concerning.”

___

Hannah Schoenbaum, based in Raleigh, North Carolina, is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

This undated photo provided by the Grants Pass Police Department shows Benjamin Obadiah Foster. Fos...
Rio Yamat and Andrew Selsky, Associated Press

Oregon kidnap suspect previously released the day he arrived at prison

A man at the center of an intense police search in Oregon after a violent kidnapping last week was released from custody in October 2021 by Nevada prison officials on the same day he was transferred to the state's custody to serve a kidnapping sentence, authorities said Monday.
11 hours ago
FILE - Military personnel watch as Air Force One, with President Donald Trump, aboard prepares to d...
Associated Press

Boeing bids farewell to an icon, delivers last 747 jumbo jet

SEATTLE (AP) — Boeing bids farewell to an icon on Tuesday: It’s delivering its final 747 jumbo jet. Since its first flight in 1969, the giant yet graceful 747 has served as a cargo plane, a commercial aircraft capable of carrying nearly 500 passengers, a transport for NASA’s space shuttles, and the Air Force One […]
11 hours ago
seattle police...
Associated Press

Name of Seattle officer in crash that killed woman released

Police have released the name of a Seattle police officer who was responding to a medical call when his patrol SUV hit and killed a 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula last week in a city crosswalk.
11 hours ago
Associated Press

15 students in Mexico treated for internet drug ‘challenge’

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Fifteen grade school students in Mexico have been treated after apparently taking part in an internet “challenge” in which groups of students take tranquilizers to see who can stay awake the longest. The incident occurred Monday in the north-central city of Guanajuato. It came just days after health authorities issued a […]
1 day ago
FILE - Marine Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, testifies on Capitol Hill in ...
Associated Press

Feds drop lobbying probe of retired general, lawyer says

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department has dropped its probe of retired four-star Gen. John Allen for his role in an alleged illegal foreign lobbying campaign on behalf of the wealthy Persian Gulf nation of Qatar, his lawyer told The Associated Press. Attorney David Schertler said in a statement Tuesday that the Justice Department had […]
1 day ago
The logo for OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, appears on a mobile phone, in New York, Tuesday, Jan. 31...
Associated Press

Cheaters beware: ChatGPT maker releases AI detection tool

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The maker of ChatGPT is trying to curb its reputation as a freewheeling cheating machine with a new tool that can help teachers detect if a student or artificial intelligence wrote that homework. The new AI Text Classifier launched Tuesday by OpenAI follows a weeks-long discussion at schools and colleges over […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
States target transgender health care in first bills of 2023