In a clash of ideologies, and after going through several gyrations to resurrect HB 648, Rep. Gabe Firment’s effort to ban surgery and hormone blockers for trans minors was vetoed by Gov. Edwards on June 30.
The measure was presumed dead after the Senate Health and Welfare Committee tabled it in a May, tie-breaker vote. The committee chair, Senator Fred Mills, who is a Republican, broke the tie and voted with the Democrat opposition to defer the bill.
But then on June 1, the Senate voted to suspend its rules and recalled the bill from committee, a rare, technical maneuver used when bills have been assigned to the wrong committee. The measure was reassigned to Senate Judiciary A, and a special review of the bill was scheduled for June 2.
The committee for Judiciary A approved the bill and the Senate passed it with amendments by a vote of 29 to 10. It was then returned to the House and the amended version passed 75 to 25. It was sent to the Governor on June 8 for executive approval.
However, in a long and detailed critique, Gov. Edwards vetoed the measure, writing, “This bill is entitled the ‘Stop Harming Our Kids Act,’ which is ironic because that is precisely what it does. This bill denies healthcare to a very small, unique, and vulnerable group of children. It forces children currently stabilized on medication to treat a legitimate healthcare diagnosis to stop taking it. It threatens the professional licensure of the limited number of specialists who treat the healthcare needs of these children. It takes away parental rights to work with a physician to make important healthcare decisions for children experiencing a gender crisis that could quite literally save their lives. And, without doubt, it is part of a targeted assault on children that the bill itself deems not ‘normal,’ “[…]
“According to the March 2023 Louisiana Department of Health’s Study on Gender Reassignment Procedures on Minors, from 2017 – 2021 there were zero gender reassignment surgical procedures performed on children in Louisiana, zero. The proponents
of this bill suggest that it is necessary to stop physicians from mutilating our children by
performing gruesome sex change surgeries. This is simply not happening in Louisiana,” he
“The Gender Reassignment report further showed that the entire issue of gender reassignment impacts a very small subset of the population. In 2021, of 794,779 children enrolled in Medicaid only 465 were diagnosed by a healthcare provider with gender dysphoria, and of those only 57 were ultimately considered candidates for puberty blockers or hormone replacements,” the Gov. wrote.
During the Senate Health and Welfare Committee hearing, Clinical psychologist, Dr. Clifton
Mixon, was among those who testified in opposition to HB 648.
“I work in a gender clinic that prescribes hormone therapies to youth,” he said. “At the heart of this debate is mistrust in our medical and mental health providers to provide ethical, individualized care without prejudice and based on best practices and established research,” Mixon said. “I’m here to address these concerns in opposition to a mean-spirited bill that defies science and humanity.
“The evidence is clear––gender affirming medical interventions are safe and effective treatment for gender dysphoria and resulting mental health problems for many trans youth. Unfortunately, you’ve been exposed to false information that misrepresents the established research and practice guidelines on gender health care medicine. I am here with actual studies that can help you understand the actual facts. I have a doctoral degree with training in how to conduct and interpret research,” he said.
Psychologist, Dr. Jesse Lambert, also testified in opposition, representing the Louisiana
The clashing world views of the individuals supporting and those opposing the bill included both sides claiming that they had the more valid research and that the other side’s research was flawed.
Dr. Quenton Vanmeter, a pediatric endocrinologist from Atlanta, Georgia, cited evidence from European countries that suggests that there is no benefit in transgender surgery or hormonal treatment and that the suicide rate is not impacted.
Dr. Stephen Félix, a pediatrician, said, “The problem with the studies that the AEP reports and others, they do not have significant randomized control trials. They have small sample sizes, they have poor follow up, they have a lot of people lost to follow up, they have individuals who they have a very short period of time that they follow them,…” he said.
In concluding his veto letter, Gov. Edwards wrote, “I believe that this bill violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause because it targets and limits healthcare to transgender children that remain available to “normal” children. And finally, I believe that time will show that this veto was not just an exercise in compassion and respect for transgender children and their parents, but it was also the only legally responsible action to take because it is what is constitutionally required of me to do to uphold my oath of office as governor.”