Amid wave of anti-LGBTQ laws, Louisiana again weighs ban on gender-affirming care

Amid wave of anti-LGBTQ laws, Louisiana again weighs ban on gender-affirming care
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A Louisiana state representative on Friday filed a proposal to ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth — one of a handful of bills targeting rights of LGBTQ Louisianans amid a wave of similar efforts by Republican-controlled state legislatures nationwide.

Sponsored by Pollock Republican Gabe Firment, Louisiana’s “Save Children from Medical Experimentation Act,” or House Bill 463, would prohibit doctors from performing “gender transition procedures” on anyone under 18 years old. Firment, who has sponsored the same bill in past legislative sessions, said he has no “hateful intent or anger” towards the transgender community and is interested “only in protecting children.”

The bills are being proposed as Republicans have passed similar legislation in Montana, Kentucky and Georgia in recent months. Supporters of such laws say they aim to protect children from pressure to undergo life-changing healthcare before they become adults. Transgender advocates, in turn, point to health studies from mainstream medical providers that indicate gender-affirming care is safe and leads to better quality-of-life for transgender youth.

“Just filing this legislation sends a message to all of the queer youth of Louisiana that their state doesn’t like them, that it thinks they’re wrong,” said Peyton Rose Michelle, executive director of Louisiana Trans Advocates. 

Leaders of Louisiana’s largely conservative Legislature, meanwhile, have downplayed the significance of HB 463 and other bills aimed at LGBTQ residents. The transgender healthcare bill will likely take a backseat to urgent fiscal debates over insurance policy, tax issues, raises for school teachers and the like, Republican Senate President Page Cortez said in a Public Affairs Research Council panel last week.

“I don’t think it’s going to take up much conversation,” Cortez said then. “We have so many other issues. Insurance, teacher pay are going to be huge debates.”

House Conservative Caucus Chairman Jack McFarland, R-Winnfield, agreed that the body would be better served focusing on other priorities, such as the mental health of young children. House Speaker Clay Schexnayder and Democratic Caucus Chairman Sam Jenkins, D-Shreveport, did not immediately return messages Monday.

According to a new analysis by the Louisiana Department of Health commissioned at the request of lawmakers last summer, no doctors in Louisiana performed any gender reassignment surgeries on Medicaid-enrolled children in a five year period starting in 2017. LDH also did not find a single provider in the state who offered those procedures for youth in the five-year window, the document says.

Transgender youth report higher rates of depression, anxiety, and self-injury than their cisgender peers, the LDH report says. They generally report receiving higher rates of unmet healthcare needs like counseling compared to their cisgender peers.

Beside Firment’s bill, the so-called “Given Name Act,” or House Bill 81, would require teachers and school employees to refer to students by the name and pronoun written on their birth certificate unless parents have provided written permission for the students to be addressed another way.

The bill allows school employees to not refer to a student’s chosen pronouns or name if they are “contrary to the employee’s religious or moral convictions.” Two other bills, Senate Bill 7 and House Bill 102, attempt to restrict access to certain materials in libraries.

The bills have already begun to spark ire. In New Orleans last Friday, public school students staged a demonstration for International Transgender Day of Visibility to protest all four bills aimed at LGBTQ+ residents. 

Firment, the sponsor of the transgender healthcare bill, said he hopes the increased national attention around the issue will raise its likelihood of passing. 

“But I was going to file it regardless,” he said.

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About Mary Weyand 14483 Articles
Mary founded Scoop Tour with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research. With ample knowledge about the Automobile industry, she also contributes her knowledge for the Automobile section of the website.

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