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Bill blocking gender-affirming assistance for Kansas transgender youth nipped by opponents

TOPEKA – 19-year-old Jenna Bellemere said gender-affirming treatments saved her life as a young transgender teenager grappling with her identity. But lawmakers are now debating legislation that could end similar care for transgender youth across the state.

Senate Bill 233, legislation that would effectively ban gender-affirming drugs and surgeries for Kansans under the age of 18 and punish the doctors who prescribe them, was heard on Tuesday by the state’s Public Health and Welfare Committee. Senate.

The bill would allow for civil actions against doctors who have provided gender-affirming care for children under 18. It would also revoke the licenses of doctors who have offered such assistance.

In addition to gender transition surgery, the bill aims to provide “testosterone to females”, “estrogen doses to males” and prescribe puberty-blocking drugs to those underage.

“I have so much empathy for people who are going through this and struggling because I struggled the same way,” Bellemere said. “The health care that this bill is trying to ban saved my life, without ambiguity.”

During the hearing, out-of-state “de-transitioners” spoke in favor of the bill. Anti-transgender attorney Chloe Cole, a California woman who received a mastectomy as a teenager when she believed she was a trans man, testified during the hearing. Another activist, Prisha Mosley, who is from North Carolina, spoke with lawmakers about the harms of gender-affirming assistance.

Senator Mike Thompson, a Shawnee Republican who co-introduced an earlier version of the legislation, asked Mosley if she was forced to transition as a teenager.

“Do you think you were prepared to make that decision?” Thompson said.

Mosley said she was given testosterone at 17, when she identified as a transgender man, and later had a mastectomy. Lei Mosley said she regrets these choices and has experienced many health issues from gender-affirming practices.

In an interview with the Reflector, Cole said she was reimbursed for travel expenses by Do No Harm, a group that fights gender-affirmation assistance nationwide.

When Moseley was asked about its funding, he said he should not reveal the name due to concerns about the group “being attacked”. He said it was funded by concerned parents nationwide.

“A lot of parents raised money and paid for it,” Mosley said, adding that parents struggled because they were afraid to let their children pass for mental health reasons.

“They are told that if you don’t affirm your son, your son will kill himself and it will be your fault,” Mosley said.

Bellemer said she felt bad for Mosley and Cole, but that their experiences didn’t reflect the vast majority of people who would be affected by the legislation.

“It is significant that the only two people they could find to testify about this had to fly in,” Bellemere said.

Bellemere was one of many Kansan residents who showed up to speak out against the bill. Dena Hubbard, a Kansas physician who spoke on behalf of the Kansas chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said gender-affirming youth care is critical and supported by many health care organizations and professionals.

Other health groups, such as the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, have opposed similar legislation. They say banning gender-affirming care for transgender minors is harmful and not rooted in science.

“KAAP recommends that youth who identify as transgender have access to comprehensive, gender-affirming, and developmentally appropriate health care delivered in a safe and inclusive clinical space,” Hubbard said.

SB 233 is one of several bills against transgender Kansans under discussion this week, which has been dubbed “hate week” by House Democrats.

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