Republicans in Congress push to criminalize gender-affirming care for transgender youth
U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler of Missouri is among 37 Republican co-sponsors of the legislation
U.S. Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia at a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 20, 2022, discussing legislation to make it a felony to perform gender-affirming care on transgender youth (Jennifer Shutt/States Newsroom).
WASHINGTON — Conservative Republicans gathered outside the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday to commit to bringing legislation to the floor that would make it a felony to perform gender-affirming care on transgender youth, should the GOP take control of the U.S. House following the November midterm elections.
“How on earth can this be happening in America? It’s hard to even understand,” said Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the main sponsor of the bill, referring to gender-affirming medical treatments sometimes used by transgender and nonbinary people, including minors.
The group touted the bill’s 37 GOP co-sponsors in the House, though that number is less than 10% of the chamber’s members, far short of the backing it would need to move on to the U.S. Senate even if Republicans take control of the House.
Greene’s office said the co-sponsors include Jim Banks of Indiana; Matt Gaetz, Byron Donalds and Greg Steube of Florida; Clay Higgins of Louisiana; Andrew Clyde and Barry Loudermilk of Georgia; Diana Harshbarger and Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee; Paul Gosar of Arizona; Lauren Boebert and Doug Lamborn of Colorado; Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin; Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina; Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey; Fred Keller, Dan Meuser and Guy Reschenthaler of Pennsylvania; Matt Rosendale of Montana; Vicky Hartzler of Missouri; and Tracey Mann of Kansas.
Conservative Republicans across the country have been seizing on the issue of gender-affirming care for transgender youth and attempting to limit it. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, “numerous states have implemented or considered actions aimed at limiting LGBTQ+ youth access to gender-affirming health care,” and some have enacted restrictions. The foundation says that 15 states in 2022 are considering 25 similar bills.
Numerous medical organizations, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Physicians, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and American Osteopathic Association have voiced opposition to laws restricting gender-affirming care.
Lee Savio Beers, American Academy of Pediatrics president in 2021, said in a statement this year that it’s “critically important for every child to have access to quality, comprehensive and evidence-based care—transgender and gender-diverse youth are no exception.”
“As pediatricians, we will continue to speak up and advocate for our patients. We also want transgender and gender-diverse youth to know that not only do we care for them, we care about them, we value them and we will do all we can to ensure they have access to the care they need and deserve,” Beers added.
A federal appeals court in August upheld an injunction blocking Arkansas’ ban on gender-affirming medical treatments for transgender children, the Arkansas Advocate reported.
Felony for gender-affirming care
The legislation proposed in the U.S. House would make it a felony to perform more than a dozen gender-affirming medical procedures on someone under the age of 18 and would allow people who had that care as minors to file a civil lawsuit against each person who provided that care.
The legislation would also prevent federal dollars from going to gender-affirming care and would bar any federal employee from performing such a procedure, or procedures.
Higher education institutions would be prevented from offering instruction in gender-affirming care.
The measure includes exceptions for people who don’t have “normal sex chromosome structure, sex steroid hormone production, or sex steroid hormone action” as well as people with “both ovarian and testicular tissue,” the bill text says.
Anyone experiencing a disease, disorder, infection, or injury related to a previous gender-affirming procedure would be allowed to get care under the bill’s provisions.
There’s also an exception for anyone with a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness who would experience “imminent danger of death or impairment of a major bodily function” without one of the procedures or treatments.
Unlikely Senate passage
The bill is unlikely to get past the U.S. Senate’s 60-vote legislative filibuster even if Republicans take back that chamber following November’s midterm elections and the bill is able to pass the U.S. House. And the legislation would be certain to face a veto from President Joe Biden, who in June signed an executive order that seeks to safeguard LGBTQ+ health care.
The House GOP measure includes the phrase “gender-affirming” nearly 50 times throughout the bill text and Greene used the phrase on Tuesday before arguing that type of care doesn’t truly exist.
“States like California, Washington, New York and other Democrat controlled states want to fast track kids and tell parents they have no right to take away their children’s desire for gender-affirming care. There’s no such thing as gender-affirming care,” Greene said.
Rep. Bob Good, a Virginia Republican and a co-sponsor, questioned why more members of Congress weren’t at the press conference to support the legislation.
“Why wouldn’t every member of Congress be here?” Good asked.
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