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Red States About Five Minutes Away From Legalized Lynching Of Trans People
The rightwing war on transgender Americans keeps advancing through red state legislatures, and among the more notable developments is that, as many warned, the bigots who want trans people to disappear have moved, in many states, from banning gender affirming care for minors to attempting to ban or severely restrict healthcare for trans adults as well . It's just getting uglier and uglier, as Republican legislators compete to see who can use the power of state government to most creatively make trans people's lives worse.
The bigoted legislation is being spewed like a firehose of hate across the country, and it can be difficult to keep track of. Fortunately, the ACLU and the Equality Federation both have online bill trackers if you want to see what horrible ideas are being floated in your state.
But holy Crom Jebus Bodhisattva Hank Gritt Galactus, these bastards are busy working to genocide trans people by limiting their access to medical care, all the while lying about wanting to "protect" children.
Forget that lie: It's about making trans people of all ages suffer for the sin of existing.
A quick review of the ongoing madness, in no particular order:
Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill Wednesday outlawing gender-affirming treatment — puberty blockers, hormone therapy, or surgery — for anyone under 18. That makes Mississippi the seventh state to ban such care for minors, after Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, South Dakota, and Utah. The bans in Alabama and Arkansas have been blocked in federal court, and we assume the lawsuits against Mississippi's ban — all the others — will soon be flying too. [ ABC News ]
It's worth noting up front here that genital surgery for minors is extremely rare. Top surgery (mastectomy) for patients under 18 is only slightly more common; in one of its trans panic articles, the New York Times noted there are no official stats, but that 11 leading pediatric clinics in the US reported 203 procedures on minors in 2021; it's also not something that anyone just rushes into. State laws vary, but nearly all minor patients get extensive counseling and need at least one parent's permission. [ NYT ]
A raft of anti-trans bills is moving through the state Legislature, including a ban on gender-affirming treatment, with possible prison sentences and/or heavy fines for healthcare providers who provide such care. Another bill would prohibit changing birth certificates "due to a gender identity change," unless it's to correct a clerical error. People who have had genital surgery could change their birth certificates with proof from a medical professional, which is already the state's standard.
Still another would "define ‘father,’ ‘female,’ ‘mother,’ ‘male’ and ‘sex,’ and would mandate school districts and vital statistics agencies identify people based solely on their sex assigned at birth,” with no exceptions. The state Senate passed a bill requiring parental permission for K-12 teachers to use trans kids' preferred pronouns. And the state House also passed two separate bans on trans athletes in girls' and women's sports (one for public schools, one for colleges and universities), although there have been no complaints from athletes anywhere in the state. [ Advocate ]
Last week, the Legislature passed a ban on gender-affirming care for minors; the vote in the House was disgustingly lopsided, 77-16, with three Democrats even joining in on bashing trans kids. Gov. Bill Lee signed it yesterday, making Tennessee Number Eight in the nation, along with that stupid ban on drag shows (Wonk link), which purportedly harm The Children.
As always, the bill sponsors insist they want to "protect" kids from being who they are. 97.5 percent of adolescents who come out as trans continue to identify as trans or nonbinary after five years, but the bill's sponsors pushed the lie that once kids get through puberty, they give up on that trans nonsense and settle down.
As with similar bills, Tennessee's subjects healthcare providers to criminal penalties for treating trans youth, but the bill includes this bizarre exception: Doctors would be allowed to continue treating patients who began treatment before the bill's effective date of July 1 this year, but would have to end all treatment by March 31, 2024. Hooray, you have a year to leave the state before your transition is cut off, kids. Shortly after Gov. Lee signed it, the ACLU announced it will sue to block the law from going into effect. [ CBS News / AP / Pink News ]
Tennessee has even worse legislation on the way, too. HB1215, currently making its way through the state House, would prohibit private managed care companies from contracting with the state's Medicaid alternative, TennCare, if they provide any gender-affirming health services at all, even for adults. To be clear, this isn't just a ban on gender affirming care for Medicaid patients in Tennessee: It would ban insurers from contracting with TennCare if they offer such care anywhere in the US.
Even though the federal government covers the majority of Medicaid, state Rep. Tim Rudd (R) explained that the bill was absolutely necessary to make sure Tennessee taxpayers' dollars don't fund transgender care in other states. Presumably Rs will now ban the sales of car brands in the state if the manufacturers allow vehicles to be sold to trans people anywhere. [ Tennessee HB1215 / AP ]
On Tuesday, the Oklahoma House passed its version of a ban on gender-affirming care for trans youth and sent it to the state Senate. The bill includes a special extra Secret Sauce ban on insurance coverage for gender-affirming care — not only for minors, but for adults, too.
The bill's author, Rep. Kevin West (R), was very proud of his work, claiming that the bill would "protect children and parents from being pressured into agreeing to harmful experimental transition procedures..." although gender affirming care is not "experimental" — at the risk of a tautology, it's often covered by insurance, and insurance companies don't cover experimental treatments. And that line about saving kids and parents from being "pressured" — a word that isn't in the bill text — is a marvelously dishonest construction. Heavens, no one would ever want gender-affirming care; it's simply that every trans person everywhere was brainwashed.
The Washington Post notes that another bill, SB 129, would go even farther, banning gender-affirming treatment up to the age of 26. The bill was originally titled the "Millstone Act," a reference to the Biblical injunction that anyone who harms a child should "have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." The title was stripped out Wednesday, apparently in recognition that Oklahoma is landlocked and the penalty would be impractical. [ Oklahoman / WaPo ]
In an attempt to outdo all the other anti-trans legislation in the country, Kentucky Republicans in late February introduced HB 470, which independent journalist Erin Reed says "takes nearly every anti-trans youth bill from nearly every state in 2023 and combines them all into one single cruel piece of legislation. It then adds wrinkles not seen in any other state."
It has all the expected bans on lifesaving gender-affirming medical care for anyone under the age of 18, but would go even farther: It would ban Medicaid coverage, end all public funding for trans youth care, and even investigate doctors and revoke their licenses if they provide gender-affirming care to youth. But there's even more, as Reed details:
one section would require schools to disclose transgender students' information to their parents, and another section would ban gender marker changes for transgender youths. A unique provision in this bill would also prohibit legal name changes for youth, but only if the name change is for "gender transition purposes."
An amended version of the bill passed out of committee and went to the full House for debate (and — spoiler — passage) yesterday. Protesters chanted "Shame! Shame!" as the committee members headed to the House chamber.
“Outside the committee room where HB470 just passed”
— Mark Payne (@Mark Payne) 1677782403
The amended version of the bill stripped out a provision that would have been a whole new front in the war on care for trans youth, by banning counseling aimed at helping kids with social transition. Apparently the Rs decided it would be too difficult to enforce, or to defend in court — who knows, really?
The now-deleted provision would have effectively forced all mental health providers to enforce cisgender identity on trans youth, by banning "social transition services," which the bill had defined as
any encouragement, advocacy, or affirmation including pronouns, affirming a name change, and affirming “sex specific behaviors that vary from those typically associated with a person’s sex.” It then states that mental health counselors are banned from any of this and by doing so, they could lose their licenses.
Eliminating that provision doesn't make the bill any better; it still includes all the other cruelty, including the non-counseling portions of the ban on social transition, like changing the gender marker on official documents and the prohibition on changing a minor's name for "gender transition purposes." Kentucky may have stripped it from the bill for now, but look for future bills that will take the plunge and ban social transition counseling. There's no reason to think there's any bottom to the war on trans people.
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