Advocates celebrate as Louisiana Senate kills gender-affirming care ban

A raised fist of a protesters painted with the Transgender flag
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Trans advocates are celebrating after a Louisiana bill seeking to ban trans youth from accessing gender-affirming care was defeated in the state’s Senate Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday.

After hours of public testimony from a packed room, the committee voted 5-4 to kill the H.B. 648. Committee Chairman Fred Mills (R) strayed from his fellow Republicans to break the tie and vote against the bill alongside Democrats.

“I guess I’ve always believed in my heart of hearts that a decision should be made by a patient and a physician,” Mills said, according to WWNO.

It is a rare win for the trans community this year, when more than 30 state anti-trans bills have already become law across the country, including several that ban youth from accessing gender-affirming care.

Democratic state Sen. Jay Luneau called the bill “a solution looking for a problem,” and Democratic state Sen. Regina Barrow said she decided to vote against the bill because “God does not violate our free will.”

One public testimonial against the bill came from Louisiana psychologist Dr. Clifton Mixon, who refuted claims from the bill’s proponents that doctors are “mutilating” the genitalia of children. Gender-affirming surgery is almost never performed on minors.

Dr. Mixon, who provides gender-affirming care to youth, pointed out findings from the Louisiana Department of Health that no gender-affirming surgery was performed on a minor in the state between 2017 and 2021.

“When you prescribe hormone therapies to these kids, they get better,” Dr. Mixon said. “They stop cutting. They want to live. They go to school. They get better grades. Their relationships improve, and they can begin to live a more normal teenage life.”

He also emphasized that kids generally transition socially and spend at least two years in therapy before any medical interventions are considered. He added that they almost never consider hormone therapy for children under 16 and reminded the committee that puberty blockers and mastectomies are used safely to treat other conditions.

At times, the hearing became tense. The bill’s author, Republican Rep. Gabe Firment, reportedly called Dr. Mixon a “radical activist” and read his tweets in which he advocated for trans rights.

Mills criticized Firment for using his time to denigrate Dr. Mixon rather than talk about the bill, stating, “In my years here, I’ve never seen something like you… We’re not going to insult people’s characters.”

Mills has now become an enemy of Republican extremists for voting alongside Democrats.

Anti-trans writer Matt Walsh tweeted, “Fred Mills has sided with the butchers and groomers. He will regret it. This is the biggest mistake of his political career, and also the end of his career. He’s going to be infamous and disgraced by his own base. We’ll make sure of that.” 

But Mills isn’t phased. When asked about it by the Louisiana Illuminator, Mills didn’t see a reason to worry about it.

“Why should I? They don’t live in District 22. They don’t have a 337 area code. I didn’t run for office to serve those people” 

Trans activist Erin Reed hailed the vote as a “massive, massive win for transgender people.”

“Louisiana becomes only the 3rd red state to beat back a total gender-affirming care ban for trans teens,” Reed added. “Activists there should be truly proud. This was not an easy task.”

Reed also said the state could end up “an oasis for all nearby states,” as it could be the only state in the South without a gender-affirming care ban.

A statement from the ACLU of Louisiana celebrated the bill’s defeat.

“The Senate Health and Welfare Committee has chosen to protect Louisiana’s transgender children by rejecting HB-648. This is a powerful win for transgender children and their families. We lift up and celebrate the incredible families, advocates, providers, and lawmakers who worked to stop this dangerous bill that targeted transgender children and stripped rights from their parents.”

“The fight to protect the rights of transgender children and their families is far from over. But make no mistake, as states across the country pass harmful bills that mirror HB648, today’s committee vote matters, and sends a powerful message that will be heard nationwide.”

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