Fort Wayne Journal Gazette covers 4 anti-trans house bills in 2023

Fort Wayne Journal Gazette covers the four anti-trans house bills targeting transgender healthcare in 2023. Some good analysis here about these bills.

General Assembly
Transgender health care targeted by new Indiana bills
Brett Stover | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Several bills filed by Republican lawmakers seek to ban doctors from providing gender-affirming care to minors.

The filings this week make Indiana one of at least a dozen states where legislators are seeking to limit transgender health care access.

One such proposal, House Bill 1220, is authored by Rep. Michelle Davis, R-Whiteland, and co-authored by three more Republicans, including Fort Wayne Rep. Chris Judy.

Early gender-affirming care is crucial for the health and well-being of transgender and nonbinary children and adolescents, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Some types of gender-affirming care are reversible, one government document states. Those include social affirmation – like using a person’s preferred pronouns and name – and puberty blockers, hormones that effectively pause puberty.

Hormone replacement therapy, which Health and Human Services says is used from early adolescence onward, is a partially reversible form of medical care.

The final category, gender-affirming surgery, is described as non-reversible and is typically used in adulthood. A Reuters report found that such surgeries are “uncommon in patients under age 18.”

Physicians and other medical practitioners would not be allowed to provide any medical nor surgical gender-affirming care under HB 1220. They would also not be allowed to refer a minor to another doctor for such care.

The bill would allow for civil penalties against medical professionals who violate the law.

Another measure, House Bill 1118, would impose harsher penalties.

Under HB 1118, filed by Rep. Lorissa Sweet, R-Wabash, health care professionals who perform gender-affirming surgeries on minors whose gender identity “is inconsistent with the minor’s biological sex” could face Level 5 felony charges. A Level 5 felony carries a sentencing range of 1 to 6 years.

It also would open medical professionals who provide other forms of gender-affirming care including puberty blocker and hormone therapy to misdemeanor charges.

Rep. Ryan Lauer, R-Columbus, has also filed two bills that would affect transgender minors.

One, House Bill 1231, has similar provisions to HB 1220 and would allow for civil penalties for doctors who provide medical or surgical gender-affirming care. It would also bar health insurance companies from covering those types of procedures.

The second, House Bill 1232, would prohibit the Department of Child Services from substantiating a report of child abuse or neglect solely because the parent or guardian insists on “referring to and raising the child consistent with the child’s biological sex” or because they won’t allow the child to receive gender-affirming surgery, medical care, mental health care or counseling.

The bill would also prohibit the Department of Child Services from taking custody of a child away from their guardian solely for those reasons.

Those bills have drawn the ire of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, whose advocacy director said the General Assembly is on track to introduce a record number of bills “attacking the rights of LGBTQ Hoosiers.”

“A number of these bills represent a coordinated, hate-driven campaign to push trans people out of public life,” ACLU of Indiana Advocacy Director Katie Blair said in a statement. “We will use every tool at our disposal to defend LGBTQ rights in Indiana. LGBTQ people belong everywhere, including in our state, and we will not stand for these attack bills.”

G. David Caudill, founder of the nonprofit Equality Indiana, said that while he’s disappointed in the legislation, it’s not unexpected based on trends across the country and other recent bills in Indiana.

“It’’s disappointing that the supermajority, and the extremists within the supermajority, are trying to score political points by attacking the LGBTQ community,” Caudill said.

He encouraged committee chairs to let the bills die in committee.

Caudill also said the bill would hurt the state’s economic environment. Indiana wants to be welcoming, he said, but bills like these “give us a black eye” economically.

This isn’t the first time the Indiana legislature has turned its eye toward transgender children.

Last year, Davis authored House Bill 1041, which banned transgender girls from participating in girls school sports.

The Indiana legislature overrode a veto from Gov. Eric Holcomb, and the ban went into effect July 1. However, the ACLU challenged HB 1041 in court on behalf of a 10-year-old transgender girl, and a federal judge ruled in her favor last July.

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