Indiana bans gender-affirming care for trans youth & requires them to detransition

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb Photo: Screenshot

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) signed a ban on gender-affirming care into law – and the ACLU is already suing.

The law not only prohibits trans youth from both gender-affirming medication and surgery, but it also requires youth already undergoing care to detransition.

It wasn’t clear at first whether Holcomb would support the legislation. Earlier this week, he called the bill “clear as mud” and said he wanted to clarify some of the “vagueness” before deciding whether or not to sign.

ACLU National and the ACLU of Indiana filed a lawsuit on behalf of four trans youths and a doctor who provides gender-affirming care.

The organization is arguing that the law is unconstitutional, violating the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. It also says the law is a violation of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid Act by banning essential services that Medicaid would otherwise authorize and reimburse.

“The legislature did not ban the various treatments that are outlined,” Ken Falk, the ACLU of Indiana’s legal director, told the AP. “It only banned it for transgender persons.”

In a separate statement, Falk asserted that the law will cause “serious injuries” to trans youth.

Studies have indeed shown that gender-affirming care can significantly lower the risk of depression and suicide for trans youth. Additionally, gender-affirming care for both adolescents and adults has been endorsed by the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychiatric Association, and many other professional groups as necessary and frequently lifesaving for transgender individuals.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) also condemned Indiana’s law.

“Governor Holcomb’s decision to sign this gender-affirming care ban into law is about nothing more than prioritizing politics over the wellbeing of transgender youth in Indiana,” said HRC State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley. “This law will deny critical, age-appropriate medical care to transgender youth, putting their health and wellbeing at risk. The transgender community is being subjected to a legislative onslaught in states across the country, and it is truly appalling that radical politicians in Indiana are joining in on this harmful campaign that will only make life more difficult for transgender youth and their loved ones.”

Editor’s note: This article mentions suicide. If you need to talk to someone now, call the Trans Lifeline at 1-877-565-8860. It’s staffed by trans people, for trans people. The Trevor Project provides a safe, judgment-free place to talk for LGBTQ youth at 1-866-488-7386. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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