Dana Black: Transgender health bill ignores entire demographic

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Dana BlackIn his testimony supporting Senate Bill 408, Micah Clark, the executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana, proclaimed on the Senate floor that, “Both science and the Bible tell us that gender is binary.”

The bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb last week, denies parents the right to provide gender-affirming care to their minor transgender children.

Clark’s statement ignores what it means to be an intersex person. In his testimony, he erased and dismissed a demographic. He was wrong in his proclamation. The passage of SB 408 will prevent someone who is intersex from receiving the necessary care they require. Now that our governor has signed this bill into law, lives will be harmed.

Republicans don’t care. They obviously don’t know enough about people different from them and in no way care if their vote will be harmful.

There is plenty of research and science surrounding what it means to be an intersex person. The Cleveland Clinic states: “People who are intersex have genitals, chromosomes or reproductive organs that don’t fit into a male/female sex binary. Their genitals might not match their reproductive organs, or they may have traits of both. Being intersex may be evident at birth, childhood, later in adulthood or never. Being intersex isn’t a disorder, disease or condition. Being intersex may affect your genitals, chromosomes, hormones, reproductive system, [and] gonads (ovaries or testicles).”

People who are intersex have a range of gender identities, and that directly contradicts Micah’s claim that gender is binary. Some people who are intersex consider their gender to be intersex. Others identify as female, male, nonbinary or a different gender. An estimated one in 100 Americans is intersex, and about 2% of the worldwide population has intersex traits.

Let’s break this down a bit in terms of SB 408 and HB 1608, a bill still moving through the General Assembly. So happy parents give birth to a child, and the doctors and nurses inform them their child is a little different. Previously, the standard for the medical profession was to pick between the two genders and the parents then agree to raise the child as the gender they selected.

But what if they get it wrong? You only have a 50/50 chance of getting it correct. And then as the child grows, he or she may begin to display traits of the opposite gender than what was originally selected. Now because of genetics, biology, science, this human will be ostracized and not allowed by law to receive medical support required to navigate a world that works to suppress their existence, just as Micah Clark did in his testimony. Not every trans person is intersex, and not every intersex person is trans, but because of ignorance and bigotry, the government will now prevent a parent from helping a child with a need for gender-affirming health care in Indiana.

How does this bill improve lives in Indiana? It doesn’t. Holcomb and the rest of the Republican supermajority didn’t even think about these Hoosiers because they didn’t even create a medical or religious carve-out. To Indiana Republicans, some of you and your health needs just don’t matter. And what does any of this have to do with HB 1608? Well, it looks like many of these Republican lawmakers could have used some secondary school understanding about gender.•


Black is former deputy chairwoman for engagement for the Indiana Democratic Party and a former candidate for the Indiana House. Send comments to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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