Health Care

Mississippi gives final approval to bill barring gender-affirming care for trans youth

Gov. Tate Reeves (R) is likely to sign the measure, making it the third state in recent weeks to prohibit some treatments for transgender youth.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

The Mississippi Senate on Tuesday gave final approval to a measure that will bar physicians from providing gender-affirming care or surgery to transgender youth, sending it to Gov. Tate Reeves (R) for his likely signature.

The bill, known as the Regulate Experimental Adolescent Procedures Act, would apply to gender-affirming care for those under the age of 18. It would block public funding to any entity that provides gender transition procedures to minors.

Physicians who provide that care — including prescribing puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones — would risk losing their medical license.

“They do things that are not natural, and that’s what we’re trying to prohibit in this bill,” Sen. Joey Fillingane (R) said of puberty-blocking and hormone therapies. “What we’re really talking about here are these procedures for persons 17 years of age and under.”

The Senate defeated a Democratic amendment, offered by Sen. Rod Hickman (D), that would have specifically allowed mental health care for transgender youth. During the debate Tuesday, Fillingane said mental health care was not covered under the ban.

Democrats who spoke out against the measure said there is little evidence that gender-reassignment surgeries are taking place, or that many Mississippi children are receiving gender-affirming care in the first place.

“I consider this to be a solution looking for a problem,” Senate Democratic leader Derrick Simmons (D) said on the floor Tuesday.

Transgender rights groups protested against the bill at the state Capitol in Jackson last week. In a statement Tuesday, the head of the Mississippi-based Transgender Resources Advocacy Network and Services Program castigated lawmakers for taking health care decisions out of the hands of individuals.

“Mississippi lawmakers are insisting that they know what’s best for transgender youth and ignoring the recommendations of every major medical association,” Jensen Luke Matar, the group’s executive director, said in a statement. “Patients, along with their health care providers — not politicians — should decide what medical care is in the best interest of a patient.”

The Republican-controlled state House approved the measure last month, leaving Reeves’s signature as the last remaining action before it becomes law.

Reeves’s spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment, though Reeves used his State of the State address last month to call on legislators to “counter those who want to push their experiments on our kids.”

If and when Reeves signs the measure, Mississippi would become the third state to take action to bar some treatments for transgender youth. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) and Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) both signed measures limiting care for transgender youth over the last several weeks.

More than 230 bills addressing the transgender community have been introduced in legislatures across the country this year, including 100 that relate specifically to health care for transgender youth. Bills restricting health care for minors have progressed through one legislative chamber in Oklahoma, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Virginia and West Virginia.