Kentucky lawmakers join push to restrict transgender care
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky House voted Thursday to ban access to gender-transition medical care for those under 18, continuing a trend in conservative states to push bills aimed at transgender youth.
Activists’ chants of “trans rights” rang out near the House chamber, where the Republican supermajority passed the measure on a 75-22 vote after a long, emotional debate. The culture war issue now heads to the GOP-dominated Senate.
The prohibition against under-18 gender-transition care would specifically apply to hormone and surgical treatments, said Republican Rep. Jennifer Decker, the bill’s lead sponsor.
The measure would designate gender-transition care for those under 18 as unethical and unprofessional conduct by health care providers. Their licenses to practice would be revoked for providing such treatment if the measure becomes law.
The bill, introduced late last month, was placed on an accelerated track on Thursday, when it was reviewed in committee and voted on by the full House in the span of a few hours.
In presenting her bill in committee, Decker said: “Ultimately, it is our obligation to protect children from irreparable harm. The state has a compelling interest in that proposition.”
Legislators supporting the bill stayed mostly silent during the discussions Thursday. Republican Rep. Nancy Tate also spoke up for the bill in the House, calling it an important issue to protect children.
After the bill won House passage, David Walls with The Family Foundation hailed the outcome, saying it would safeguard children from “life-altering surgery or hormone” treatments.
Opponents took turns condemning the measure in impassioned speeches during the House debate. They denounced it as discriminatory and an intrusion into parental rights, at a time when Republican lawmakers have advocated for parental rights in education. Opponents also warned that the measure would harm already vulnerable children.
“Do you think that by making gender-affirming care illegal that we will no longer have trans children?” said Democratic Rep. Tina Bojanowski. “You are wrong. What we will have is more dead trans children.”
Republican Rep. Kimberly Poore Moser’s objections included how the bill would treat medical workers. She said it signals to them that the state is “going to micromanage you, we are going to insert government into the practice of medicine and we are going to punish you if you step out of line.”
Nationally, state lawmakers are approving extensive measures against LGBTQ individuals this year, from bills targeting trans athletes and drag performers to ones limiting gender-affirming care. In Mississippi, Republican Gov. Tate Reeves this week signed a bill to ban gender-affirming hormones or surgery in the state for anyone younger than 18. The Republican governors of South Dakota and Utah have signed bans on gender-affirming care this year,
In Kentucky, transgender-rights activists made impassioned pleas against the bill when it was reviewed Thursday by the House Judiciary Committee.
“I encourage any trans person who can hear my voice, to stand tall and proud,” said Miles Joyner, who is a trans man. “Do not bow your head. We are not villains. We are not predators. We are human beings deserving of dignity and respect.”