‘Don’t Do This to Kids’: State Hearings on Gender Transitions for Minors Draw Large Crowds
The contentious debate surrounding gender transition procedures for minors continued unabated in statehouses across the nation this week, with several states moving bills meant to shield youth from the physical and emotional harms of such procedures.
Both sides of this debate continue to show up in large numbers to voice their opinions, with opponents of such legislation even storming the capitol in Oklahoma on Monday. Such legislation is currently moving through the legislatures in states such as Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Tennessee.
State lawmakers seem more determined than ever to address the trauma and permanent scars experienced by people like Chloe Cole from occurring to minors in their state.
This week, legislation to protect minors was heard in committees in states such as Idaho and Nebraska. The Idaho House Committee on Judiciary, Rules, and Administration held a hearing for H.B. 71, the Child Protection Act, on Tuesday. The bill, sponsored by state Representative Bruce Skaug (R-10) moves to amend the state’s genital mutilation statute, expanding the prohibition on genital mutilation of female children to also apply to male children, and expanding this definition to include puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and so-called “gender-affirming” surgeries.
Testifiers included medical professionals, parents, transgender-identifying individuals, individuals who have “detransitioned,” policy experts, and other concerned citizens. Medical professionals testified both in support of and opposition to the bill, the former advocating for the protection of minors from such invasive and unproven procedures, and the latter stressing parental rights and the alleged risk of suicide for minors who are not permitted to undergo such procedures.
One such Idaho practitioner who testified in support said, “I can testify that medically altering their physical appearance is not the answer. As a doctor who has sworn to do no harm, it is my duty to warn you against gender treatments that fundamentally alter a child’s healthy body.”
The bill passed the committee with a vote of 14-3, sending it to the full Idaho House for consideration.
Similar legislation was also considered in Nebraska on Wednesday, when the Health and Human Services Committee heard testimony on LB 574, the Let Them Grow Act, sponsored by state Senator Kathleen Kauth (R-31). In a seven-hour-long hearing, committee members heard testimony from a wide range of viewpoints and individuals representing a variety of different organizations, including Family Research Council, the Trevor Project, the Nebraska Family Alliance, the Nebraska Medical Association, Eagle Forum, the Nebraska Psychological Association, Gays Against Groomers, and Partners for Ethical Care.
Once again, testifiers pleaded with the committee, some to stop minors from undergoing gender transition procedures in Nebraska, and others to allow it to continue. Scott Newgent argued for the former. Newgent started the transition process at age 42 after being told by a therapist that she was really a man trapped in a woman’s body. She held up her arms during her testimony saying that she almost died during the transition process and that she still suffers from infections. “As you can see, I’m suffering right now from one,” she said. “I tried to kill off the female side because I was sold a lie,” she continued. . . “I was told that if I pump myself full of testosterone, all my self-loathing would magically disappear — remove my breasts, alter my genitalia — but I was tricked. You cannot transition your pain away. You only add to it.”
Newgent concluded her testimony by encouraging the committee members, saying, “For you to do the right thing today, you will be considered a bigot, but tomorrow, you will be a hero. This is wrong on every level. I’ve done it. I’ve researched it. I’ve talked to hundreds of transgender people. Don’t do this to kids.”
Also testifying in support of the Let Them Grow Act was FRC’s Dr. Jennifer Bauwens, director of the Center for Family Studies. Drawing from her experience as a trauma therapist and researcher, Bauwens drew attention to some of the many problems with the current protocol in the medical and mental health communities regarding so-called “gender-affirming care.”
Many Nebraskans voiced their staunch opposition to the bill during the hearing, asserting that gender transition procedures are safe, effective medical treatments and that this is proven by the body of research on the subject. Dr. Bauwens rejected this claim, saying that most of these studies use cross-sectional data and are too short-term to indicate how patients will fare in the long-term.
During perhaps the longest Q&A session for any of the supporters of the bill, Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh (D-6) asked Bauwens about the current national standards for gender transition set by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), a transgender advocacy organization. Addressing Bauwens, Cavanaugh asked, “. . . If we were to pass this legislation. . . we would not be in compliance with WPATH’s recommendations?”
“Right,” Bauwens replied, “you’d be more in compliance with science.”
The Senate Health and Human Services Committee did not hold a vote on LB 574 on Wednesday and is expected to vote on this piece of legislation at a later date.