Indiana lawmakers advance ban on gender-transition procedures for minors

Krisztina and Ken Inskeep’s son came out as transgender when he was a teenager, a transition they told an Indiana Senate public health committee on Wednesday that offered a possible remedy to years of his mental health struggles.

Still, an Indiana Senate bill that the couple called “cruel and arrogant”—banning gender-transition procedures for those 18 and under, the very care they said kept their son alive—passed the committee 8-3.

“If it weren’t for the support of doctors and health care professionals, we’re convinced that our child may not have survived,” Krisztina said.

The bill, which moves to the full state Senate, would ban all gender-transition care for Indiana minors. That care could range from taking puberty blockers and hormone therapy to social transition at schools.

This legislative session, conservatives nationwide are focused on LGBTQ issues in statehouses—introducing bills that target trans athletes and drag performers, and limit gender-transition care.

Utah’s Republican governor recently signed into law a ban on gender-transition care, and judges have temporarily blocked similar laws in Arkansas and Alabama that force medical providers to stop offering gender-transition care to minors.

Most recently, on Tuesday the Republican-dominated Mississippi Legislature sent a bill that bans gender-transition care for anyone younger than 18 to the state’s Republican Gov. Tate Reeves, who is running for reelection and has indicated that he will sign it.

In Indiana, Wednesday’s Senate bill is the second approved this week that opponents say targets trans people.

Residents shared testimony, their voices often shaking in anger or getting choked up with tears, as protesters cheered with joy outside the Senate chambers. A similarly enthusiastic crowd chanted outside House chambers Monday after lawmakers advanced a bill in committee that would require public school teachers to divulge students’ social transitions or pronoun changes to parents.

“Since these procedures have irreversible and life-altering effects, it is appropriate and necessary for our state to make sure these procedures are performed only on adults who can make the decision on their own behalf,” said Republican Sen. Tyler Johnson, an emergency physician and author of the bill.

Medical providers have challenged this idea that puberty-blockers and hormone therapies are irreversible.

But representatives from Indiana University Health Riley Children’s Hospital, the state’s sole gender health program, said that for patients who are minors, doctors do not perform genital surgeries or provide those surgery referrals.

“We fundamentally believe this legislation interferes with a parent’s right to choose the best possible care and potentially-life saving care for their child as it pertains to these services,” Tory Castor, senior vice president of government affairs at IU Health, said Wednesday.

Dr. Lauren Bell, an adolescent medicine fellow at Indiana University and spokesperson for the Indiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, added that medication like puberty blockers are reversible, though such cases are rare.

Young trans residents flooded the statehouse hallways and the Senate chamber Wednesday, describing before legislators their positive experiences with gender-transition care.

“I’m not afraid to speak anymore,” said Damian Ryan, a 17-year-old from Fishers. “I’m not afraid to look in the mirror anymore. I’m not afraid to be who I really am anymore.”

Killian Provence would love to one day receive gender-transition care, he said, even if that is not possible for him now.

“Although I’m 16, I know who I am,” Provence said. “And I have for a long time.”

Some people who detransitioned also testified Wednesday—though they underwent surgeries as adults or were not Indiana residents. Sill, most of the testimony came from those who are opposed to the bill.

Matt Sharp, senior counsel of the conservative Christian group Alliance Defending Freedom—a national legal organization that advocates for limiting LGBTQ rights and growing Christian influence in schools—supported the bill before Senators.

“Indiana is well within its authority and duty to protect minors from these harmful procedures,” Sharp said.

Parental rights, a topic that had outlined Monday’s House committee debate, also defined Wednesday’s testimony.

Ken Inskeep said he found it “so insulting” that lawmakers would “suggest parents are just too damn stupid” to understand their child’s dire mental health or medical needs, pushing forward a ban for situations he said they cannot understand.

“Imagine if your kid is on the edge,” said Ken Inskeep. “Every single day you’re locking up medications and you’re hiding the scissors and the knives, and why? That’s because you got to worry that they’re not going to be alive when you come home.”

Nadine McSpadden, whose teenager is trans, said that parents of trans kids—and the children themselves—“are no different” than others.

“We’re all just muddling through, trying to do the right thing for our kids,” she said. “And trans teens aren’t the Boogeyman. They’re just kids, muddling through worrying about grades and friends and weekend plans.”

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12 thoughts on “Indiana lawmakers advance ban on gender-transition procedures for minors

  1. There is room for reasonable debate and restrictions on gender transition procedures on minors. This bill isn’t it, and is simply anti-trans. Kids with parents that can’t make the trip to Illinois and Michigan will now be at greater risk of suicide due to the hatred of MAGA lawmakers.

    A reasonable proposal would be to require a certain number of appointments with a certified psychiatrist to confirm that a minor is at a point where the doctor is confident that they are trans. After that, they can get puberty blockers, etc. They already don’t perform gender reassignment surgery on minors in Indiana, so that’s not even an issue. Why the GOP can’t be reasonable enough to propose something like that is mind boggling. It’s gross that the only policies they worry about now are issues that pander to bigots.

    It started with putting restrictions on health care for women. Now they’re restricting medical care for the trans community. I wonder what’s next? I’m guessing the Indiana GOP will ban the pill that prevents gay men from getting HIV.

    1. I’m trying to figure out how legislators think parents are too stupid to understand the consequences of gender transition procedures despite medical guidance involved in such a thing … but they’re simultaneously smart enough to handle the choice of where they send their kids to school with tax dollars.

      I mean, either parents are dumb or they’re smart.

    2. Thanks, DD. That really tells me I hit the spot and made you think there.

      Republicans believe in freedom, defined as people are free to do whatever they want … from the limited list of things we allow them to do.

  2. The answer to kids (or adults) with this rare mental disorder is counseling and therapy, not hormones or surgery which has lifelong health implications. European countries are moving away from these ‘treatments’ for minors but the greedy and unethical American medical industry is going full steam ahead, cheered on by people motivated by a deranged sort of political ideology.

    1. 21 R, I don’t think it’s the greedy medical industry pushing for these treatments but rather hospitals and physicians are worried that if they don’t conform with the left’s woke agenda, they’ll get cancelled etc.

  3. No word on whether top surgery for minors seeking larger breasts will be banned. A lot more of those are performed annually. Hopefully, they will get to that crisis soon.

  4. Thanks to the medical professionals and organizations who testified to protect the rights of their patients. I am thinking of all the Hoosier families supporting their kids’ mental health needs as they watch their state legislators strip their rights. The state legislature’s irrational focus on trans kids, when our state has so many pressing needs, makes me so sad.