INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana House Republicans on Monday approved a bill that would ban all gender-affirming care for minors in the state, sending the measure to Indiana's Republican governor amid a wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation across the U.S.
The House advanced the ban 65-30 after contentious hearings that primarily featured testimony from vocal opponents. The bill would prohibit transgender youth under 18 from accessing hormone therapies, puberty blockers and surgeries in the state.
“This is good public policy to protect our children from irreversible, harmful, life-altering procedures,” said bill sponsor Indiana Rep. Joanna King of Middlebury.
In many U.S. states, lawmakers are approving or considering laws that target transgender health care and limit competitions open to trans athletes.
At least nine states have enacted laws restricting or banning some forms of gender-affirming healthcare for minors: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Mississippi, Tennessee, Utah and South Dakota. A proposed ban is pending before West Virginia’s governor, while federal judges have blocked enforcement of laws in Alabama and Arkansas.
Opponents of the Indiana bill said the most commonly used treatments banned in the legislation — hormone therapies and puberty blockers — are often life-saving for trans kids.
“When I started hormone therapy, it made me feel so much better about myself,” said Jessica Wayner, 16, at a House public health committee hearing earlier this month.
Supporters of the bill voiced concerns about those treatments.
Xandra Roberts testified at the public health committee hearing that she detransitioned after living for 10 years as a man. Roberts says she feels lingering effects of testosterone, like facial hair growth.
“Too many kids are losing body parts and causing irreversible harm to their bodies and minds," said Roberts, who was 26 when she began testosterone.
Hospital representatives testified that the treatments available to minors are safe and reversible, while surgical procedures that are harder to undo aren't currently offered to minors anyway.
Now the bill goes to Gov. Eric Holcomb, who hasn’t said if he’ll sign or veto it.
When asked about the bill on March 17, Holcomb said, “In general, parents not only have a right to their children’s health and well-being, they, in fact, have the responsibility of it.”
Last year, Holcomb vetoed a bill banning transgender students from competing in girls school sports that has since become law after Republican legislators voted to override his action.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana sued to overturn the law but dropped the case when the lead plaintiff, a 10-year-old transgender girl, transferred to a charter school.
On Monday, the ACLU of Indiana urged Holcomb to veto the healthcare legislation and promised legal action if it becomes law.
“Politicians harm us all when they ignore medical judgment and block access to standard care in favor of discriminatory fearmongering,” said ACLU spokesperson Katie Blair.
Republican Reps. Ed Clere of New Albany and Jerry Torr of Carmel joined all 28 Democrats present in voting against the bill.
Associated Press writer Tom Davies contributed to this report. Rodgers 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 under-covered issues. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/arleighrodgers
Arleigh Rodgers, The Associated Press