In an absolutely nightmarish turn of events, Republicans in the House and the Senate are introducing legislation to allow adults who received gender-affirming care as youths to potentially sue those physicians later in life. The legislation includes a 30-year statute of limitations and would apply to care given after the bill goes into effect. The bill, which is expected to be formally introduced on Wednesday, is misleadingly titled the “Protecting Minors from Medical Malpractice Act” and is being introduced in the Senate by Tom Cotton of Arkansas and in the House by Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana and Doug LaMalfa of California.
This inflammatory legislation also seeks to ban federal health funds from going to states that allow health care workers to perform gender-affirming health care. Notably, it permits patients or their legal guardians to sue those physicians after the patient turns 18. Patients would be able to sue for declaratory or injunctive relief in addition to attorney fees and compensatory damages.
The end goal? Continue to demonize vulnerable trans folks and scare physicians away from providing this safe, age-appropriate, and necessary health care by criminalizing it. It’s evil, it’s hateful, and we should all be ashamed this is even a conversation our nation is humoring.
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The bill defines “gender-transition” procedures as social affirmation (like pronouns and names) and hormonal therapies and puberty blockers. It defines “biological sex” on the basis of “genetic classification” via sex chromosomes, naturally occurring sex hormones, and internal and external genitalia present at birth. It specifically notes that this does not include the “subjective sense” of identifying the person in question has for themselves.
"Radical gender-changing ideologies ignore scientific evidence and put children in harm's way," LaMalfa said in part, per Newsmax (of course), claiming that “every time” a physician offers gender-affirming care to a minor, they’re “potentially” sterilizing them “for life” and violating their oath to do no harm.
The actual statement mindfully uses the word “child” instead of youth or even minor, and uses outdated phrasing like “gender-transitioning” instead of “gender-affirming.” I would love to not highlight these phrasings and framings, but I think it’s valuable in terms of educating people on common conservative buzzwords.
LaMalfa went on to describe gender-affirming care as “experimental procedures” and frame the federal government as trying to “force” physicians to offer this care. Again, buzzwords and hysteria.
Unsurprisingly, Cotton took on a similar approach when speaking to Fox News (again, of course) by incorrectly declaring that gender-affirming care isn’t “safe or appropriate” for youth and describing physicians who offer this life-saving care as “radical” doctors who perform “dangerous” and “experimental” procedures. Cotton also suggests all of this care is “sterilizing” and that these procedures are being performed on “young kids.”
No one, including children, is being forced or pressured into surgeries. Gender-affirming care for youth often involves using the correct name and pronouns, supporting gender expression in appearance and clothing, and sometimes hormonal therapy and puberty blockers. It just depends. In many states, people under 18 cannot receive gender-affirming surgeries at all.
At the end of the day, these are personal medical decisions that should happen between the patient and their medical providers, not the rest of us. There is no right or wrong way to be trans and there is no right or wrong way to transition, but everyone should have the basic dignity of accessing safe and age-appropriate health care with the respect and help of their physician.
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Sadly, this bill is not an isolated example of transphobia and queerphobia. We’ve seen conservatives take this line of attack across numerous states in the past few years, including efforts to make it a felony for physicians to provide gender-affirming care to trans and nonbinary youth. A ban on gender-affirming care for trans youth in Alabama has already gone into effect.
We know gender-affirming care is life-saving care. We know acceptance can literally save lives. We know trans youth know who they are.
Sign the petition: Transgender children deserve all our love, support, and gender-affirming care