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A Louisiana Senator Filed a Bill That Will Make It Harder for Trans Youth to Get Medical Care



LOUISIANA – On March 30th, 2021 Senator Mike Fesi filed Senate Bill 104 which will force transgender and gender non-conforming people under the age of 18 to get permission from their parents before they can get gender-based medical or mental health care.

Transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals who don’t have parents that support their identity will be unable to legally seek the medical assistance they require. Social justice groups fear this potential legislation could affect the majority of transgender youth in the state.

The legislation requires explicit written permission from both parents even if only one parent has custody; however, if the other parent or guardian doesn’t want their child to get medical care they can block the treatment, even if they aren’t an active part of their child’s life.

As long as their parental rights have not been terminated, which is extremely rare, they could overrule the primary caregiver’s decision to approve gender-based care by asking the court to prohibit gender therapy.

The proposed law defines “gender therapy” as “counseling or psychotherapy treatment founded on the position that, regardless of a person possessing physical attributes of a certain gender at birth, no gender identity, expression, or experience by that person is any more valid than any other” and “Nonsurgical and surgical procedures for gender dysphoria such as hormone treatments and gender-related surgery.”

Doctors, therapists, counselors, and other medical professionals who perform gender therapy would be barred from doing so without a parent’s permission and would have to operate under a gag order.

Even if a teenager or child brought up their gender identity when visiting a medical professional for a different reason, the professional would be prohibited from addressing those issues until they had received permission from a parent to do so. Being unable to address gender identity issues will handicap medical and mental health professionals in treating these youths.

If they do mention them or provide trans youth with medical or mental health services that are gender-based without the youth’s parent’s consent the bill “shall subject the provider to civil and regulatory liability and sanctions provided by law for unauthorized practice.”

What this bill is asking healthcare professionals to do is to provide lackluster care to a group of people who are already at risk for developing mental health issues.

The Center for Disease Control has reported that “Transgender students are more likely than cisgender students to report violence victimization, substance abuse, and suicide risk.”

Louisiana Trans Advocates reported that 54% of transgender and non-binary youth have seriously considered suicide in the last year, and 29% have made a suicide attempt. Gender-affirming care can mitigate these risks because it has been shown to reduce suicide attempts and ideation for trans youth.

Dylan Waguespack, the president of Louisiana Trans Advocates, emphasized how harmful this legislation could be for teenagers who are already at a higher risk for developing mental health issues. He explained that having a teacher or counselor affirm a transgender or gender nonconforming child’s identity can greatly reduce the risk of that person harming themselves.

Waguespack predicts that the bill will create a “two-tier health care system” for transgender and gender nonconforming minors, separating those whose parents are supportive of their identities and want to give them care and those whose parents aren’t supportive of their identities and bar them from care. “Care is going to be available to people who have support, but not to anyone else,” Waguespack explained.

In other words, those who need care most will not have access to it.

Nothing riles up conservative and religious groups more than the transgender community, so the effort to legally restrict them comes as no surprise to many. There have been over 20 states that have considered transgender restrictions, including Louisiana, which had 2 bills filed last year to keep transgender children and teenagers out of youth sports.

This bill will be reviewed during the Louisiana legislative session beginning on April 12 and would take effect, if passed, on August 1, 2021. To take action against the bill, call Senator Fesi’s office at (985) 858-2979 and ask him to withdraw this proposal.