In a chilling turn of events, Louisiana’s Republican politicians have decided to override Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards’s veto on a bill barring gender-affirming care for minors. The veto, which was an effort to uphold the rights of trans youth to receive vital health care, was overridden on Tuesday.
Edwards, in his veto statement on July 1, took a stand against HB 648. He condemned the bill as a baseless denial of health care fueled by “propaganda and misinformation generated by national interest groups.” He stressed that he had evaluated the bill’s need and merit in the context of Louisiana’s data and realities, finding it devoid of any possible merit.
The approved legislation isn’t a minor setback but a major blow. It prevents those under 18 in Louisiana from accessing gender-affirming surgeries, puberty-blocking medications, and hormone treatments. Additionally, it threatens the livelihoods of healthcare professionals offering these services, with punishments ranging from a two-year revocation of their licenses and beyond.
Worth noting, major medical associations endorse gender-affirming care as clinically suitable for individuals grappling with gender dysphoria – psychological distress that arises when one’s gender identity doesn’t align with the sex assigned at birth, as defined by the American Psychiatric Association.
The Republicans’ override isn’t universally backed within the party. State Senator Fred Mills, a Republican, voiced his dissent, advocating for the decision to remain in the hands of the patient and their physician. His sentiments reflect the belief that this legislation is an alarming example of government overreach, undermining the civil liberties and constitutional rights of Louisianans.
Echoing Mills’s sentiment, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Louisiana condemned the override of HB648. They called it a direct threat and pledged to continue fighting for the rights of transgender youth and their families.
The bill does include a clause that allows doctors to continue providing gender-affirming drug or hormone therapy to minors until December 1, 2024, if they started before January 1, 2024, and believe that immediate cessation would harm the minor.
Nevertheless, Governor Edwards strongly criticized the law following the override, describing it as a needless attack on a vulnerable population of children, their families, and their healthcare professionals. As the fight for trans rights and healthcare continues, it’s clear that the journey toward acceptance and understanding remains an uphill struggle.