‘Pure evil:’ La. lawmaker looks to ban gender-affirming healthcare for minors
BATON ROUGE, La. (KALB) - The focus of the 2023 Regular Legislative Session is on fiscal matters, and for the most part, legislation pre-filed ahead of day one has addressed monetary needs statewide. However, a few pre-filed bills are seeking to address more controversial issues, like sexuality and gender conversations.
The one getting the most backlash from the transgender community is HB463 from State Rep. Gabe Firment (R-District 22). It is Firment’s second attempt to ban gender-affirming healthcare for minors.
“Children are not mature enough to drive, they’re not mature enough to buy alcohol or cigarettes or to get a tattoo,” said Firment. “Why would we allow them to remove perfectly healthy reproductive organs?”
Firment’s ‘Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act’ would ban a physician or medical healthcare professional from providing gender transitioning procedures to any person under 18 years old. Those procedures, which Firment said are “pure evil,” include cross-sex hormones, puberty blockers and surgery.
If gender-affirming treatment were given and was not medically necessary, the medical professional would be subject to disciplinary action. It would also not allow public funds to be used on gender reassignment procedures or provide for insurance reimbursements.
“What we’re beginning to see is a flood of so-called de-transitioners, kids that regret going through these procedures. And we’re going to see more and more of that,” explained Firment. “My fear is that if we don’t get something done, five years from now, 10 years from now, we’re just going to have hundreds if not thousands of kids come to us and say, ‘Why did yall let this happen? How in the world could you let this happen to me?’”
However, for those in the LGBTQ community, Firment’s legislation is stirring up more than harsh emotions.
As first reported by Louisiana Illuminator, on Transgender Day of Visibility last week, hundreds of students at Ben Franklin High School in New Orleans protested the legislation.
“These are kids who, you know, have already made the transition, have contemplated all of the options and are sort of being told basically by lawmakers, ‘Look this isn’t an option for you medically.’ It really hit some of them very, very hard,” explained Greg LaRose, editor-in-chief of Louisiana Illuminator, who heard from students first-hand in covering the event.
Those in attendance at the protest even blasted Gov. John Bel Edwards, pointing to 2022′s Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, which banned transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports. Though Edwards decried the bill, he allowed it to go into effect without his signature.
“Moving forward, if there are going to be substantial changes in healthcare in education access, in all manners of access for the transgender community, it won’t happen without a fight,” said LaRose.
Firment introduced similar legislation on gender-affirming care in the 2022 session. However, he withdrew it mid-session, opting instead to file a resolution for a study on gender-affirming care in Louisiana. The study had many goals, but it primarily looked to collect data on procedures being done in the state on minors and whether there were negative effects from those procedures.
Results of the study conducted by the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) were released last month, and while the information is limited to only Medicaid recipients, the data does not reflect many of Firment’s concerns.
The study reported that from 2017-2021, an average of 14.6% of minors with gender dysphoria received hormone therapy or puberty blockers. Zero underwent surgery. The number of patients receiving care and those healthcare professionals giving care has steadily decreased since 2018.
The study also noted improved mental health for those who received treatment, and less than one-percent of those treated with gender-affirming healthcare as a minor felt regret or the need to retransition.
The report, however, notes that information is also limited due to the lack of long-term studies conducted on the issue.
The 2023 Regular Legislative Session begins on April 10.
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