Wisconsin GOP joins efforts to ban surgeries for transgender youth

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MADISON — Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin are once again seeking to place limits on transgender children, this time banning doctors from performing sex-changing surgeries on anyone under the age of 18.

Eight Republican lawmakers have proposed a bill that seeks to prevent children and teens from having such surgeries and allows parents to sue doctors who perform the procedures.

The legislation mirrors proposals in at least 15 states and comes months after GOP lawmakers sought to ban transgender athletes from participating in school sports for girls and women.

The bill allows district attorneys to prosecute doctors who ignore the ban and cuts public funding for facilities that offer the surgeries. Health insurers would also be barred from covering these procedures under the proposal.

In a memo to colleagues, the bill’s authors characterized transgender children as needing the help the legislation would provide.

“Children who identify as transgender deserve help, not harm. When a child is in trouble, they need compassionate care,” the authors wrote.

“People who struggle with other types of dysphorias, such as anorexia, are not able to modify their bodies as they wish. Instead, care is provided to help them find healthy ways manage their stress.”

Megin McDonell, executive director of LGBTQ advocacy group Fair Wisconsin, said the proposal was “the most extreme political attack yet on Wisconsin’s transgender children.”

“Not only does this show a fundamental lack of understanding of transgender children, but it also appears to criminalize best practice medical care for transgender youth that is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and other authorities. world-class medical services,” she said. noted.

James Madara, a doctor who heads the American Medical Association, wrote in a letter to the National Governors Association in April that approving such proposals could endanger the health of transgender children and represented a “dangerous intrusion” by the government. in the practice of medicine.

“Empirical evidence has demonstrated that trans and non-binary gender identities are normal variations of human identity and expression,” Madara wrote to the association’s director.

“For gender-diverse people, accepted standards of care and medically necessary services that are gender-affirming or address gender dysphoria may include mental health counseling, non-medical social transition, gender-affirming hormone therapy, and /or gender-affirming surgeries.”

“Every major medical association in the United States recognizes the medical necessity of transition care to improve the physical and mental health of transgender people.”

McDonell said she responded to calls and messages Tuesday from parents, children, clergy and medical professionals about the proposal.

The bill’s author, Rep. Scott Allen, R-Waukesha, said transgender children aren’t old enough to make an informed decision about whether to undergo gender reassignment surgery.

“Wisconsin has a compelling interest in protecting its citizens from harm, especially children, and the purpose of this bill is to protect children from the irreversible effects of harmful interventions when they are too young to meaningfully consent. “, said Allen. “That’s why we have child protection and child labor laws.”

Allen said the limits set out in the legislation would join those already provided by state law for minors, such as prohibiting them from getting tattoos, drinking alcohol or buying cigarettes.

In Wisconsin, we care about our children,” he said. “We want them to get the love and help they deserve without being pressured by adults in professional or advocacy groups looking to push an agenda forward.

Arkansas became the first state to adopt such limits in April 2021 after the state’s GOP-controlled legislature voted to override Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto of a bill that bars doctors from provide such surgeries or hormone therapy and puberty hormone blockers.

The Williams Institute, a UCLA Law School think tank, found in 2021 that about 45,000 transgender children would be affected by proposed nationwide measures limiting medical care and procedures.

Two bills proposed in Wisconsin last spring to ban transgender athletes from participating in women’s school sports passed the state Assembly but did not make it to the state Senate.

Contact Molly Beck at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @MollyBeck.

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