Kentucky and neighboring West Virginia on Wednesday became the latest states to enact laws restricting individuals under the age of 18 from accessing transgender medical treatments.
After back-to-back votes in both houses of the Kentucky legislature, Republican super-majorities overrode the veto of Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear on legislation banning cross-sex hormone therapies and sex-reassignment surgeries for minors, as well as restricting bathroom use by biological sex. The law also prohibits teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools and allows teachers to deny the use of students’ preferred pronouns.
The Senate voted 29-8 to override Beshear’s veto. Moments later, the House voted 76-23 to complete the override and make the bill law.
Loud protests from the House gallery prompted a police response. The protesters, who are opponents of the bill, shouted, “more of us are not here,” as they were handcuffed and led away from the Capitol.
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Nineteen people were arrested and charged with third-degree criminal trespassing, Kentucky State Police said. Officers gave each person “the option to leave without any enforcement action or be placed under arrest,” said Capt. Paul Blanton, a police spokesman.
Republican House Speaker David Osborne said it was “unfortunate” that the protesters refused to silence their chants and had to be removed.
Democrats who oppose the bill have compared the issue to the civil rights movement. “Kentucky is on the wrong side of history,” said Democratic Rep. Sarah Stalker,
The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky and other LGBTQ+ advocacy groups have vowed to challenge the law in court, arguing that denying transgender medical treatment to trans teens negatively affects a marginalized group that is increasingly risk of suicide.
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On the same day, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice introduced a bill into law that would prohibit individuals under the age of 18 from being prescribed cross-sex hormones and puberty blockers. The law also prohibits sex-reassignment surgery for minors, which some physicians say does not occur in West Virginia.
However, unlike Kentucky’s legislation or laws in other states, West Virginia’s law has an exception that allows doctors to provide transgender medical treatment to youth who are considered at risk for harm to self or suicide.
Under the law, which takes effect in January 2024, a patient can be prescribed puberty blockers and hormone therapy after receiving parental consent and a diagnosis of severe gender dysphoria from two doctors, including a mental health provider.
Medical professionals define gender dysphoria as severe psychological distress experienced by people who identify as a gender different from their birth sex.
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The laws adopted by Kentucky and West Virginia on Wednesday are part of a national movement opposing transgender medical treatments as unproven and potentially dangerous for children. Supporters of such legislation say that gender-confused children are encouraged to make life-changing and permanent decisions before they understand the consequences of doing so.
Research suggests that regret among transgender individuals who have medically changed their bodies is rare, but some who have detransitioned, like activist Chloe Cole, have gained notoriety in the so-called “gender-affirming” movement. care” for minors.
On the other hand, every major medical group including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychiatric Association, supports transgender medical treatments for gender dysphoric youth.
Advocates for transgender people say such care saves lives because untreated trans youth face higher rates of depression and suicide. Opponents counter that the United States is out of step with European countries including Sweden, Finland, and the UK, which have already learned the benefits of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones. are low compared to the risks and implemented strict eligibility requirements for minors to receive these treatments.
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The number of transgender youth under 18 doubled between 2017 and 2020, from .7% to 1.4%, according to UCLA research. The report released in June, based on government health surveys, also found that less than 43% of the 1.6 million people who identify as transgender in the US it is between 13 and 25.
At least 11 states have now enacted laws restricting or banning transgender medical treatments for minors, including Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Utah, South Dakota and West Virginia. Federal judges have blocked laws in Alabama and Arkansas from taking effect and nearly two dozen states are considering bills this year that would restrict or ban transgender medical treatments.
Fox News’ Jon Brown, Teny Sahakian and the Associated Press contributed to this report.