Mississippi Senate passes ban on transgender health care for minors

(JACKSON, Miss.) — A bill banning gender-affirming care for people under the age of 18 is heading to the desk of Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves.

The bill, passed by the Mississippi Senate on Tuesday, would restrict access to gender-affirming hormone therapy and puberty blockers for people age 17 or younger. The bill also passed the House in January.

In 2021, Reeves passed an anti-trans sports bill that barred transgender girls from playing on teams that align with their gender identity.

According to the Madison County Journal, Reeves has signaled support for the bill, saying “I look forward to signing this legislation to protect Mississippi kids from this woke ideology that is trying to be pressed upon kids across America.”

If signed, Mississippi would be at least the fifth state to implement a law against gender-affirming care for minors. This includes Alabama, Utah, South Dakota, and Arkansas. Florida did not pass a law, but instead restricted this care via the state Board of Medicine.

Laws in Alabama and Arkansas are being battled in the courts.

Studies have shown that gender-affirming care is safe and effective for transgender or nonbinary youth, and that such care improve patients’ mental health and self confidence.

LGBTQ people and activists say that gender-affirming care can be “life-saving” for transgender youth who already face higher risks of suicide, substance abuse, bullying and poor mental health outcomes due to discrimination.

Supporters of these bans suggest that transgender youth should wait until they are adults before making decisions about gender-affirming care. In other states, some proposed bills begin to restrict care even into young adulthood, up to the ages of 21 or 26.

Several major national medical associations recommend gender-affirming care, with the American Medical Association calling it “medically necessary.”

Critics are urging Reeves to veto the bill.

“Mississippi lawmakers are insisting that they know what’s best for transgender youth and ignoring the recommendations of every major medical association,” said Jensen Luke Matar, Executive Director of The TRANS Program in Mississippi in a statement.

“Patients, along with their health care providers – not politicians – should decide what medical care is in the best interest of a patient. I know from years of working directly with trans youth in Mississippi that they need support, love, and affirmation – not this brazen political attack that cuts off their access to life-saving care,” Matar continued.

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