Despite Left-wing Disruptions, States Continue to Bar Gender Transition Procedures for Minors
Left-wing protestors disrupted the Montana House of Representatives from the balcony for half an hour on Monday, chanting in support of state Representative Zooey Zephyr (D). Zephyr, who identifies as transgender, lost his speaking rights after claiming last week that lawmakers who voted to protect children from gender transition procedures had “blood on your hands.” The disruption ended after police arrested seven protestors and cleared the building in riot gear.
The dispute in the Montana legislature reached a fever pitch last week, as legislators considered amendments the governor had proposed to SB 99, a bill “to enhance the protection of minors and their families … from any form of pressure to receive harmful, experimental puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones and to undergo irreversible, life-altering surgical procedures prior to attaining the age of majority.”
After alleging the bill was “tantamount to torture,” Zephyr said on April 18, “If you vote yes on this bill and yes on these amendments, I hope the next time there’s an invocation [a prayer opening the legislative session] when you bow your heads in prayer, you see the blood on your hands.”
The next time Zephyr sought to be recognized on the House floor, House Speaker Matt Regier (R) refused to recognize him. “It is up to me to maintain decorum here on the House floor, to protect the dignity and integrity,” said Regier. “And any representative that I don’t feel can do that will not be recognized.” Regier has demanded Zephyr apologize for the comment, which he has so far refused to do.
The House Rules Committee convened to debate whether the speaker could prevent a member from speaking and eventually voted that he could. The full House confirmed Regier’s decision 63-31. The Montana Freedom Caucus called for “the immediate censure of transgender Rep. Zooey Zephyr after his threatening and deeply concerning comments.”
In response to the Freedom Caucus’s use of the pronoun “his,” The Associated Press printed a story under the headline, “Montana lawmakers deliberately misgender a transgender colleague.”
National Review’s Noah Rothman called the media’s characterization of the controversy “incomprehensibly backward.” Zephyr’s “indecorous slander irritated some Republicans — understandably so,” he wrote. “In response to this provocation, they did not reserve the courtesy for Zephyr that was not shown to them, and they vented their frustrations at what they regarded as conduct unbecoming of the venue via the proper channels. That’s it. That’s the national news story here.”
While the legacy media chose to focus on the fight over decorum and disruptive protests, the underlying news is the Montana legislature’s successful passage of SB 99, which prohibits any person from knowingly providing gender transition surgical procedures, cross-sex hormones, or puberty blockers to a minor “to address a female minor’s perception that her gender or sex is not female or a male minor’s perception that his gender or sex is not male.”
Any violation of SB 99’s prohibitions is considered “unprofessional conduct and is subject to discipline by the appropriate licensing entity or disciplinary review board” and must include a one-year suspension from practicing medicine. “The attorney general may bring an action to enforce compliance,” and the minor’s parents or guardians also “have a private cause of action for damages and equitable relief.”
SB 99 further prevents the use of state funds, state employees, and state property to promote or perform gender transition procedures on minors. It also bars such procedures from coverage in state health insurance programs and from qualifying for state tax deductions.
During the Senate committee hearings, Family Research Council’s Dr. Jennifer Bauwens testified in support of SB 99. “Neurological science affirms our need to give special protections to children. … What is being referred to as ‘gender-affirming’ care is in direct opposition to this knowledge regarding development, and our understanding of good research and treatment,” said Bauwens, a licensed therapist and clinical researcher. “These kids deserve better. We should be innovating solutions to heal their distress, not coercing them onto a path that tells them they need to remove or change parts of who they are in order to be whole.”
SB 99 first passed the Senate (30-20) on February 8 and the House (65-34) with amendments on March 24. The Senate concurred (32-17) in the House amendments on March 29. On April 17, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte (R) returned SB 99 to the legislature with proposed amendments. The House (65-33) and Senate (31-17) both voted to adopt the governor’s amendments on April 19 and transmitted the revised bill to the governor on April 21.
Montana is not the only state where legislatures are making headway towards protecting children from unscientific gender transition procedures.
On April 20, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum (R) signed HB 1254 into law after it passed the House (66-25) on February 17 and Senate (37-10) on April 3 by overwhelming margins. Burgum previously vetoed a women’s sports bill, so bill sponsor Rep. Brandon Prichard (R) was not optimistic that he would sign this bill.
Under HB 1254, any surgical procedure “for the purpose of changing or affirming the minor’s perception of the minor’s sex” is a Class B felony, with a maximum 10 years in prison and/or $20,000 fine, and any action to “prescribe, dispense, administer, or otherwise supply” puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones for the same purpose is a Class A misdemeanor, with a maximum 360 days in prison and/or a $3,000 fine. HB 1254 provides an exception “if performance or administration of the medical procedure on the minor began before the effective date of this Act.”
North Dakota joins 10 other states that have passed legislation in 2023 to give minors some level of protection from gender transition procedures. They include Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia. Alabama (2022), Arkansas (2021), and Arizona (2022) passed similar legislation in previous years.
At least four other state legislatures are pushing similar legislation toward the finish line.
On April 18, the Florida House passed (82-31) SB 254, under which “sex-reassignment prescriptions and procedures are prohibited for patients younger than 18 years of age,” enforced by state licensing boards, a private right of action, the attorney general, and criminal penalties. SB 254 also prohibits the use of state funds or entities in gender transition procedures on minors, authorizes the state to take emergency custody of a child threatened with a gender transition procedure, details the requirements for informed consent, and requires medical facilities to report whether they perform gender transition procedures. SB 254 previously passed the Florida Senate (27-12) on April 4.
- Oklahoma SB 613, which passed the Senate (40-8) on February 15, was reported out of committee on April 13 and now proceeds to the floor.
- Texas SB 14, which passed the Senate (19-12) on April 4, was reported out of committee on April 14 and now proceeds to the floor.
- Missouri SB 49, which passed the Senate (24-8) on March 23, was reported out of committee on April 19 and now proceeds to the floor.
- Nebraska LB 574 was reported out of committee on February 28 and proceeded to the floor of the unicameral legislature. Despite an unprecedented filibuster of every single bill, LB 574 was placed on final reading on April 18.
As state legislatures have capitalized on growing momentum to protect children from gender transition procedures, left-wing activists have not taken it lying down. Several weeks ago, transgender activist groups disrupted the Kentucky legislature — with loud chanting that resulted in arrests — while it considered a bill to protect minors from gender transition procedures, as part of a “fear and hatred campaign,” according to Kentucky Family Foundation Executive Director David Walls. In Texas, left-wing protestors laid down in the hallways of the state capitol to protest a committee hearing regarding a gender transition bill. In Nebraska, pro-trans senators have resolved to filibuster the entire legislative session over a gender transition bill, which has slowed all legislative business to a crawl.
Hundreds or thousands of pro-trans protestors have assembled at or in state capitols in Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, and West Virginia, but the legislators have generally persisted in their endeavors to protect children from harmful gender transition procedures.
Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.