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Kansas passes bill to end gender-defining care for minors

Republican lawmakers in Kansas approved a plan early Friday to end gender-confirmation care. Transgender youthIt capped a week of intense efforts to roll back LGBTQ rights.

The Kansas House voted 70-52 to pass a bill that would require the state’s medical board to revoke the licenses of doctors who provide gender-affirming care to minors, even though many professionals who work with transgender youth consider such care important to preserving mental health. and to prevent suicide. The Senate then approved the measure by a 23-12 vote, sending it to Democratic Governor Laura Kelly.

Transgender Health-Kansas

Kansas State Sen. Mark Stephen, left, R-Hutchinson, confers with Senate President Ty Masterson, right, R-Andover, during a Senate work break, April 7, 2023, at the Statehouse in Kan., Friday morning.

John Hanna/AP

The governor, who is expected to veto it, promised LGBTQ youth during a statehouse lobbying day last month that he would protect their rights and reject any measure “aimed at harming or discriminating against you.” Neither chamber lacks the two-thirds majority of supporters needed to override a veto.

LGBTQ-rights advocates believe they are witnessing a national effort to erase transgender, non-binary, gender non-conforming and gender fluid people from American society, at least legally. Dr. Beth Oller, a family physician in a small northwest Kansas town who provides gender-affirming care, has seen GOP lawmakers go “dog whistle hunting” to rally their party.

“It was a winner because they found it palatable to take rights away from a population that doesn’t affect most of them,” he said in an email Thursday night. “They trick themselves into groupthink so they can pretend it’s not about hate but about protection, but we know the truth.”

Thirteen other states have enacted laws against gender-defining care for minors, though federal judges have blocked their enforcement in Alabama and Arkansas. Republican lawmakers across the United States have pursued hundreds of proposals this year rolling back LGBTQ rights.

Proponents of the Kansas ban argue that it is about protecting children from medical care that comes with side effects or cannot be reversed. They claim that only an adult – and not a minor’s parent – can consent to treatment.

“We all know children change their minds,” said state Rep. Susan Humphries, R-Wichita. “How many children know what they want to be when they grow up?”

Care prohibited by the bill would include puberty-blocking drugs and hormone therapy. Although the bill would not prevent transgender youth from receiving counseling or psychiatric therapy, the measure would apply to acts performed or actions “to ensure the child’s understanding of the child’s gender” if it is different from the gender assigned at birth.

“That’s where I part with surgical procedures,” said state Rep. Steve Howe, a Republican from central Kansas. “I agree that all children have value, and that’s why I’m going to support the bill.”

The Kansas vote came after its lawmakers on Thursday passed a “parental rights” bill that allows families to opt out of activities involving their children’s lessons and LGBTQ-themed materials and another measure that restricts rooming arrangements for transgender students on school trips.

Republicans on Tuesday approved a sweeping bathroom bill that would bar transgender people from changing their gender on their driver’s licenses. On Wednesday, they overrode Kelly’s veto of a bill to ban transgender female athletes from girls and women’s sports.

“People are finally getting tired of this push to try to push our kids in the wrong direction, and I think it’s a pushback from parents who see this as a big problem,” said state Sen. Mike Thompson, a conservative, Kansas City. -Area Republicans who supported all measures. “For hundreds and hundreds and thousands of years, I think it wasn’t a problem. Then all of a sudden it seems it is.”

Humphreys suggested that “a social contagion” driven by social media is fueling the “misguided” desire of young people to transition to a different gender, repeating an idea that has been debunked by multiple studies.

Transgender treatment for children and adolescents has been available in the United States for more than a decade and is endorsed by major medical associations.

“Gender-affirming drugs are lifesavers,” Jordan Smith, a Kansas City-area resident who identifies as gender fluid and leader of the Kansas chapter of Parasol Patrol, an LGBTQ youth advocacy group, said after a transgender-rights rally at the Statehouse. Last week.

“You know, kids are trying to figure out who they are and they have to look to adults for that guidance,” she added, “and adults want to say: ‘No, you can’t be that way. No, that’s not right. You Just confused.'”

After last week’s rally, Ian Benalcazar, a 13-year-old transgender boy from northeast Kansas, said his decision to socially transition to male was “one of the biggest decisions of my life.”

“I feel so much freer and more myself, and it allows me to make so many great connections with people and be authentically me,” she said.

Oller, the doctor, said he has patients who are “terrified” they won’t be able to get care, and he worries that a law against gender-affirming care could force him to leave his small town.

But he also said he would likely sue the state, “because I’m not going to take this lying down.”


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