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Mississippi may ban trans people under 21 from receiving healthcare

Mississippi may ban trans people under 21 from receiving healthcare
Mississippi Supreme Court

In a potential first, Mississippi is attempting to prevent anyone from receiving transition-related healthcare if they are under the age of 21. That would restrict trans people from accessing potentially life-altering treatment, potentially longer than they are restricted from voting, consuming alcohol, or marriage.

State Senator Angela Burks Hill (R) has proposed what is called the “Transgender 21 Act,” which would “prohibit certain medical procedures from being performed upon a minor” and penalizing anyone that tries to advocate for trans youth to seek healthcare-related to their identity, even if it is non-surgical or non-hormonal.

Related: Montana Republicans target transgender youth in two new bills

Under the “Transgender 21 Act,” trans youth would not be able to seek gender-affirming care, and medical professionals could be punished for even bringing up their gender identity without the consult and express permission of a trans youth’s parents or guardians. It would also make it legally required for medical professionals to out trans youth if they try to receive treatment related to their gender identity, or face civil punishment. State employees are also barred from trying to protect trans youth’s gender identity.

The bill’s purpose is to prevent anything medical that would “address a discordance between an individual’s sex and sense of identity.” The proposal says that people under 21 should not receive gender-affirming care because they “are incapable of comprehending the negative implications and life-altering difficulties” of their decisions.

The act, as proposed based on its 200-word title, would provide “a good-faith exception for a minor born with a medically verifiable genetic disorder of sexual development.”

If a person under 21 is intersex, has “external biological sex characteristics that are ambiguous and irresolvable,” or a specific chromosomal makeup, they would be allowed to receive medical treatment — presuming they would undergo a medical examination to “medically” verify their identity or a test to determine they do “not have the normal sex chromosome structure.”

It would also allow cisgender people to still receive breast enhancements or reductions as minors or teenagers while restricting other gender-specific treatment.

But it would “prohibit the state, its agents, and political subdivision” from “infringing” on parents’ rights to decide whether or not to block their children from receiving any treatment related to being transgender, gender non-conforming, or having “gender dysphoria.” Surgeries and hormonal treatment would be banned for people under 21 altogether.

The proposal, if passed, would also protect so-called “conversion therapy” or similar “guidance,” and ban or penalize anyone that tries “taking adverse action” against “counsel” that is “consistent with conscience or religious belief… whether or not the counsel… is described as therapy.”

The ban on getting gender-affirming hormones or surgery until someone turns 21 would be longer than most other age-based restrictions in the state. Youth in Mississippi can enlist in the military at age 17, get cosmetic surgery and own a gun at age 18, and vote at age 18. Teens as young as 15 can get married with parental consent, and at age 18 can consume alcohol if a parent consents as well.

Hill, a former science teacher from Picayune, MS has been in the state senate since 2012. She is in her third term and has vocally supported anti-LGBTQ proposals in the past.

She proposed the bill on January 8, and it has been referred to both the Public Health and Welfare and Accountability, Efficiency, Transparency committees for further consideration. The Mississippi Senate currently has a Republican majority by 36 to 16. If passed, it would go into effect on July 1, 2021.

“This bill from Mississippi is devastating,” Chase Strangio, the Deputy Director for Transgender Justice for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)’s LGBT & HIV Project, tweeted about the proposal. They added that it “forces disclosure to parents.”

“It is alarming and unconstitutional on many fronts.”