Louisiana lawmakers pressed to resurrect bill banning gender-affirming care for minors

May 26, 2023, 1:28 PM

Sen. Fred Mills asks a question to members of The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Servi...

Sen. Fred Mills asks a question to members of The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services during a hearing at the Louisiana State Capitol on Aug. 8, 2022, in Baton Rouge, La. Mills, who voted to kill a bill Wednesday, May 24, 2023, that would ban gender-affirming medical care bill for transgender youths, is receiving national backlash from conservatives. (Michael Johnson/The Advocate via AP)

(Michael Johnson/The Advocate via AP)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A longtime Republican lawmaker, in rural Louisiana, is facing national backlash following his tie-breaking vote to kill a bill that would ban gender-affirming medical care for transgender youths in the state.

State Sen. Fred Mills told The Associated Press Friday that he stands by his decision. But state Attorney General Jeff Landry — who is a GOP gubernatorial candidate — and the Republican Party of Louisiana are pressing lawmakers to resurrect the bill and pass it.

Mills’ decisive vote Wednesday poises Louisiana to be one of the few southeastern states that hasn’t enacted a ban or restrictions on gender-affirming care. Proposals are pending in North Carolina and South Carolina’s legislatures, and federal judges have temporarily blocked bans in Arkansas and Alabama.

“While the topic of transgender rights is immensely complicated and socially polarizing, the bill before me was not,” Mills, a pharmacist, said in a written statement Friday. Mills is also the chairman of the Senate’s Health and Welfare Committee, where the bill was debated for nearly three hours. He added that he relied on “science and data and not political or societal pressure.”

With Mills’ vote, the bill — which would have prohibited hormone treatments, gender-affirming surgery and puberty-blocking drugs for transgender minors in Louisiana — was deferred, 5-4. In the hours after, backlash mounted with anti-transgender activists taking to social media, including conservative political commentator Matt Walsh, who tweeted to his nearly 2 million followers that Mills would “regret” his decision and that it is “the biggest mistake of his political career.”

In recent years, Republicans who blocked proposed transgender care bans have faced political fallout.

In Arkansas, former Gov. Asa Hutchinson angered fellow Republicans in 2021 when he vetoed a similar ban. The GOP-led Legislature moved quickly to override Hutchinson’s veto and enact the ban, which has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge. At the time, former President Donald Trump criticized Hutchinson over the veto, calling him a “RINO,” or “Republican in Name Only.”

Hutchinson, who signed into law other restrictions on transgender youth, argued the medical ban went too far. The Republican said he would have supported a prohibition that focused only on surgery.

The deferral of Louisiana’s proposed ban marked a rare victory for LGBTQ+ advocates this legislative session, who continue to fight against multiple bills — from a bill critics call restrictions on access to library books deemed “sexually explicit,” which advocates fear would target the queer community.

But, with two weeks left in the session, conservatives are hastily seeking and pursing ways to revive the legislation.

“I don’t think you are going to see the last of it,” Mills said Friday.

Already, House lawmakers added a poison pill amendment to Mills’ own bill — related to telehealth — that would bar that legislation from becoming law unless the ban on gender-affirming care also becomes law. Additionally, lawmakers can opt to discharge the failed bill from committee, meaning it can receive a vote on the GOP-controlled Senate floor despite failing in committee. This tactic is uncommon and rarely succeeds, but there is growing pressure from political forces outside of the Legislature to do so.

“As attorney general for 8 years I have worked hard to protect our children. I urge the full Senate to take up and pass HB 648,” Landry tweeted Friday. “As governor, I would immediately sign this bill into law. Pediatric sex changes should have no place in our society.”

In a press release, the Republican Party of Louisiana also urged the Senate to override the committee vote and debate it on the floor “where all senators will have the chance to weigh in on this pivotal piece of legislation.” The bill had already been passed in the House, mainly along party lines, 71-24.

Proponents of the legislation argue the proposed bans would protect children from life-altering medical procedures until they are “mature enough” to make such serious decisions. Additionally, they fear the state could draw minors from surrounding states — where there are bans — seeking gender-affirming health care.

Opponents of Louisiana’s bill argue that gender-affirming care, which is supported by every major medical organization, can be lifesaving for someone with gender dysphoria — distress over gender identity that doesn’t match a person’s assigned sex. Research suggests transgender children and adults are prone to stress, depression and suicidal thoughts, and advocates for the LGBTQ+ community fear that without the care, transgender children could face especially heightened risks.

So far, at least 18 states have enacted laws restricting or prohibiting gender-affirming care for minors, and all three of Louisiana’s bordering states have enacted bans or are poised to.


Associated Press writer Andrew DeMillo in Little Rock, Arkansas, contributed to this report.

National News

FILE - Homes burn as a wildfire rips through a development near Rock Creek Village, Dec. 30, 2021, ...

Associated Press

Authorities to reveal results of investigation into how Colorado’s worst wildfire started

DENVER (AP) — Authorities say they have wrapped up their investigation into what started the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history and will announce their findings on Thursday. The blaze destroyed nearly 1,100 homes as heavy winds pushed it across the heavily populated suburbs between Denver and Boulder on Dec. 30, 2021. Two people were […]

1 day ago

Kim Adams of the SOAR Initiative, a nonprofit that seeks to prevent drug overdoses in Ohio, packs f...

Associated Press

‘Keep them alive’: More states legalize fentanyl test strips to combat surging opioid deaths

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — At Cleveland’s Urban Kutz Barbershop, customers can flip through magazines as they wait, or help themselves to drug screening tests left out in a box on a table with a somber message: “Your drugs could contain fentanyl. Please take free test strips.” Owner Waverly Willis has given out strips for years […]

1 day ago

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks during an event to commemorate Pride Month, in the East Room of t...

Associated Press

Biden invites thousands of LGBTQ+ individuals, singer Betty Who, to Pride Month celebration

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has invited thousands of LGBTQ+ individuals to celebrate Pride Month in a high-profile show of support at a time when the community feels under attack like never before and the White House has little recourse to beat back a flood state-level legislation against them. Biden was announcing new initiatives […]

1 day ago

FILE - Former President Donald Trump greets supporters before speaking at the Westside Conservative...

Associated Press

The Republican presidential field is largely set. Here are takeaways on where the contest stands.

NEW YORK (AP) — After a trio of new announcements this week, the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential field is all but set. A handful of stragglers may jump in later, but as of now there are at least 10 high-profile Republican candidates officially seeking their party’s nomination. And with the announcement phase of the primary […]

1 day ago

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak watches a drone demonstration as he visits the Friendship Techno...

Associated Press

Biden and Sunak to focus on Ukraine and economic security in British PM’s first White House visit

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rishi Sunak for wide-ranging talks on Thursday as the British leader makes his first White House visit as premier. The leaders’ Oval Office talks are expected to cover the war in Ukraine, China, economic security, international cooperation on regulating the growing field of artificial intelligence, and more. Biden and Sunak have already […]

1 day ago

FILE - A sign outside the National Security Administration campus in Fort Meade, Md., is seen June ...

Associated Press

AP-NORC poll finds both Democrats, Republicans skeptical of US spying practices

WASHINGTON (AP) — As it pushes to renew a cornerstone law that authorizes major surveillance programs, the Biden administration faces an American public that’s broadly skeptical of common intelligence practices and of the need to sacrifice civil liberties for security. Congress in the coming months will debate whether to extend Section 702 of the Foreign […]

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Men's Health Month...

Men’s Health Month: Why It’s Important to Speak About Your Health

June is Men’s Health Month, with the goal to raise awareness about men’s health and to encourage men to speak about their health.

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

Louisiana lawmakers pressed to resurrect bill banning gender-affirming care for minors