In a matter of hours on Thursday, Republican legislators in Kentucky passed an antitransgender bill that would allow teachers to misgender their students and bans gender-affirming care for transgender youth in what advocates called the latest among a string of GOP-pushed antitransgender legislation.
The new bill not only forbids trans youth from receiving gender-affirming care, a practice that professional medical associations have deemed safe and effective for children with gender dysphoria, but takes it a step further by mandating that doctors set a timeline to detransition children already taking puberty blockers or undergoing hormone therapy.
Under the bill, teachers would not be allowed to discuss sexual orientation or gender identity with students of any age. School districts would also be required to craft policies that forbid transgender students from using the restroom tied to their gender identities.
The bill, which appeared all but dead a day earlier, was revived Thursday, and both the House and the Senate passed it with some slight modifications.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D), who is running for reelection this year, now has 10 days to either veto or sign Senate Bill 150 into law. Even if he did veto it, Kentucky’s legislature would be able to override his decision.
When asked Friday about whether the governor would veto the bill, his spokeswoman pointed The Washington Post to his comments at a March 2 news conference.
“I can’t support anything that would cost the life of one of our Kentucky teens,” Beshear said at the time, referencing medical studies that suggest bills like this are linked to an increase in suicide among transgender youths.
Those who oppose the bill, including the ACLU of Kentucky and the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ young people, have called it unconstitutional, dangerous and among the “most extreme anti-trans bills in the nation.”
“In a last-minute move, the Kentucky legislature turned SB150 into an extreme omnibus anti-trans bill, incorporating a number of anti-trans policies, with one of the most egregious being a medical care ban for transgender and nonbinary young people,” Troy Stevenson, director of state advocacy campaigns for the Trevor Project who urged Beshear to veto the bill, said in an email to The Post late Friday.
Gillian Branstetter, communications strategist for the ACLU’s LGBTQ and HIV Project, told The Post that the bill, which is similar to those proposed in other states, is part of a coordinated right-wing effort “against the safety and dignity of transgender people nationwide.”
The timing of its passing is also not a coincidence, Branstetter said.
“I find it particularly abhorrent that many politicians in the Kentucky legislature would enact this measure over the fears and sorrow of Kentucky state senator Karen Berg,” Branstetter said, referring to Berg’s transgender son Henry Berg, 24, who died by suicide in December. “That suggests to me that this measure was proposed and passed not out of concern for the well-being of a vulnerable group of young people or out of sympathy for the rights and fears of parents.”
On Thursday, Sen. Berg (D) gave an impassioned speech denouncing the bill and voted against it.
“This is absolutely willful hate for a small group of people that are the weakest and most vulnerable,” she said.