“An attack” Kansas lawmakers are advancing a ban on gender affirming care for trans youth

The bill will undergo a final vote by lawmakers on Wednesday before advancing to the Senate.

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has already expressed her intention to veto the bill in the event that it reaches her desk.

When asked about the bill, Kelly stated, “I think you can look back in history and see how I’ve responded in the past and I really haven’t changed my position.” Last year, she vetoed a similar proposal, and lawmakers were unable to override her decision.

Ongoing effort

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The Kansas bill represents another attempt by conservative states, including Kansas, to restrict the rights of transgender individuals.

Missouri enacted a policy last year that prohibited transgender minors from accessing hormone therapy and transition surgery, which are referred to as gender affirming care by medical groups. Similarly, in Kansas, lawmakers implemented a measure that prevented transgender athletes from participating in girls and women’s sports. Furthermore, they defined the terms “man” and “woman” in state law based on the sex assigned at birth.

The rights of LGBTQ Americans remained a key focus this year, with significant developments. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, a total of 478 bills aimed at limiting LGBTQ rights have been introduced in statehouses nationwide. Notably, twenty-two states, including neighboring Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, have implemented bans on gender affirming care for youth. These findings were highlighted by the Human Rights Campaign.

Jaelynn Abegg, a transgender woman from Wichita who is running for the state Legislature, expressed her dismay at the series of legislative measures.

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As lawmakers stepped into the House chamber on Tuesday, they were greeted by advocates holding signs, urging them to vote against the proposed measure.

Elise Flatland, a mother of two transgender children from Kansas, expressed her concerns about the safety of her children if the bill was to pass. She firmly believed that receiving gender-affirming care had greatly improved their lives.

“It feels like an attack. The government is accusing me of child abuse,” Flatland expressed. “And that’s truly terrifying. It’s hard to believe that providing my children with essential medical treatment, prescribed by their doctors, could be seen as anything but caring for their well-being.”

According to Rep. Bill Clifford, a Republican and physician from Garden City, there is a lack of sufficient research on gender affirming care.

“We do treat children differently,” he stated.

A comprehensive analysis conducted by the Associated Press revealed that the regret rate for medical transition in the United States and Canada stands at an incredibly low 1%. Prominent medical associations in America strongly oppose any limitations on hormone therapy and transition surgeries for minors. The American Academy of Pediatrics, for instance, asserts that young individuals should have access to gender affirming care that is suitable for their developmental stage.

Broad impacts

Kansas’ proposed legislation poses a serious threat to healthcare providers who offer gender affirming care to minors. This bill not only puts their medical licenses at risk but also opens the door for lawsuits against these practitioners for up to 10 years after their patients turn 18.

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The bill also prohibits the use of any state funds or resources for gender transition, including social transitioning that does not involve medical interventions. It specifically prevents state employees who work with children from promoting the use of social transition.

Rep. Heather Meyer, a Democrat from Overland Park and a mother to a transgender child, expressed concerns about the broad wording of the policy. She emphasized that it could potentially prevent a state social worker from using a child’s preferred pronouns.

According to social worker Meyer, the bill has the potential to negatively impact providers who frequently work with children who are questioning their sexuality and gender identity, and who are suffering from gender dysphoria. Meyer emphasized that a significant portion of gender affirming care involves talk therapy, which may be restricted if the bill is passed.

“This bill unfairly targets and marginalizes individuals who may not be fully understood.”

According to Rep. David Buehler, a Republican from Lansing, minors are prohibited from voting and purchasing alcohol.

According to the speaker, this legislation does not single out or show prejudice against individuals with gender dysphoria. Instead, it grants young people the opportunity to naturally develop and reach adulthood, where they can autonomously make decisions about their own lives as independent and responsible individuals.

If the bill becomes law, it is expected to encounter a legal challenge. According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas, the policy infringes upon the constitutional rights of Kansans.

D.C. Hiegert, an ACLU attorney who identifies as transgender, expressed concern over the bill, stating that it establishes a concerning precedent by infringing upon parents’ rights to make decisions regarding their children’s medical care. Additionally, Hiegert argues that this legislation violates the constitutional right to personal autonomy for Kansans, which includes the ability to control one’s body, assert bodily integrity, and exercise self-determination.

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