Indiana governor signs ban on gender-affirming health care
Indiana’s governor signed a bill banning all gender-affirming care for minors Wednesday, joining at least 12 other states that have enacted laws restricting or banning such care.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the legislation after Republican majorities in the Legislature approved it. The law will go into effect July 1, and trans youth currently taking medication to transition would have until the end of the year to stop doing so.
Holcomb had told reporters Tuesday that the bill on his desk was vague and had not indicated he would sign it or veto it.
“Permanent gender-changing surgeries with lifelong impacts and medically prescribed preparation for such a transition should occur as an adult, not as a minor," Holcomb said in a statement.
Opponents of the legislation said the types of care the bill would ban, such as hormone therapy and puberty blockers, are vital and often life-saving for transgender kids. Medical providers say most of the procedures banned in the bill are reversible and safe for minors. Transgender medical treatments for children and teens have been available in the U.S. for more than a decade and are endorsed by major medical associations.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana called Holcomb’s decision “a devastating development for transgender youth” and said it intended to fight the law.
“In addition to targeting an already vulnerable group, this law blatantly disregards the rights of parents and families to make decisions about their children’s health,” the group’s executive director, Jane Henegar, said in a statement. “The ACLU is dedicated to overturning this unconstitutional law and is confident the state will find itself completely incapable of defending it in court.”
But supporters of the legislation have contended such care is not reversible or carries side effects that only an adult — and not a minor’s parent — can consent to.
Lawmakers also banned gender-transition surgeries for minors in the state, though hospital representatives in Indiana told lawmakers doctors do not perform genital surgeries for minors or provide them surgery referrals.
At least 12 other states have enacted laws restricting or banning gender-affirming care for minors: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Utah, South Dakota and West Virginia. Federal judges have blocked enforcement of laws in Alabama and Arkansas, and nearly two dozen states are considering bills this year to restrict or ban care.
Most recently, Republican Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed a bill criminalizing gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth into law on Tuesday evening.
Arleigh Rodgers is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/arleighrodgers