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Conservatives freak out & claim Maine’s trans refuge bill promotes child trafficking

A person holding a sign reading protect trans lives
Photo: Shutterstock

Conservatives are freaking out over proposed legislation by Maine Democrats that would make the state a sanctuary for trans kids seeking gender-affirming care.

L.D. 1735 would take a variety of steps to protect families who come to the state to obtain health care for their trans children, including declaring that an out-of-state arrest warrant for someone who violated another state’s law against gender-affirming care for youth is Maine’s “lowest law enforcement priority.”

The part about which Republicans have decided to stoke panic states that a court would have temporary emergency jurisdiction over a minor present in the state if they have “been abandoned” or if “it is necessary in an emergency to protect the child because the child or a sibling or parent of the child is subjected to or threatened with mistreatment or abuse or because the child has been unable to obtain gender-affirming health care or gender-affirming mental health care.”

Republicans have decided that this section means the state will snatch children from their families if said families will not allow them to obtain gender-affirming surgery, even though such surgery is almost never performed on minors.

Right-wing organization Courage is a Habit called the legislation a “Transgender Trafficking Bill,” and Chaya Raichik, who runs the extremist anti-LGBTQ+ social media account Libs of TikTok, posted that the bill “says the state can take custody of a kid if the parents oppose s*x change surgery and the chemical castration of their kids.” The message was then reposted by conservative commentator Megyn Kelly, who wrote, “This is SICK! Bombard them with emails. This cannot pass.”

Donald Trump Jr. also responded to Libs of TikTok’s post, writing that “they want full control of your kids. They want parents to have no say so they can do whatever they want,” an ironic take considering those seeking to ban minors from accessing gender-affirming care are trying to take away parents’ power of their kids’ medical care.

Trump Jr. added, “These people are evil and insane. Stop this madness.”

Anti-trans activist Riley Gaines also threw in her two cents, listing the email addresses of committee members considering the bill and providing a draft email for her followers to send. The email urges lawmakers not to pass the bull because it “would permit state government to separate children from their parents over a social issue” and would also let minors “flee to Maine for irreversible chemical and surgical castration” (gender-affirming care provided to minors is almost always reversible).

But as trans journalist Erin Reed explained, these are wild misinterpretations of the bill. “Importantly, this provision does not imply, as some conservative accounts have proclaimed, that the state will ‘take away trans kids from non-affirming parents,'” Reed wrote. “Rather, this provision merely gives judges temporary jurisdiction over a kid present in the state. The state would still have to prove to a judge that a transgender teen is at risk of abuse or neglect if returned to their family in the exact same way the state would have to prove similar things about a cisgender kid.”

Reed also explained a portion of the bill that grants Maine jurisdiction in custody disputes when one parent lives in Maine and another lives somewhere in which gender-affirming care is banned. She emphasized that “the bill does not require the judge to rule in favor of the [affirming] parent; it merely allows the court to consider the argument.”

The bill also forbids state and local law agencies from providing information to out-of-state agencies about lawful gender-affirming care being performed in the state, adding that Maine law enforcement agencies cannot “knowingly make or participate in the arrest or participate in any extradition of an individual pursuant to an out-of-state arrest warrant for violation of another state’s law against providing, receiving or allowing a child to receive gender-affirming health care or gender-affirming mental health care in this State, if that care is lawful under the laws of this State, to the fullest extent permitted by federal law.”

According to Reed, Maine would become the 15th trans refuge state should the law pass.

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