Holcomb signs gender-affirming care ban for trans youth into law
Gov. Eric Holcomb signed Senate Enrolled Act 480 into law Wednesday, along with 10 other bills that were waiting for his signature. The ban on medicinal and surgical gender-affirming care for transgender youth takes effect July 1.
In a statement, Holcomb said it is “important that we recognize and understand” that struggles with gender dysphoria are real. But also said that medical transitions should “occur as an adult, not a minor.”
Gender-affirming care is health care that encompasses mental, social, medical and surgical care designed to treat gender dysphoria.
SEA 480 bans gender-affirming surgeries, which aren’t provided to minors in Indiana, and medicinal gender-affirming care – like hormone therapy and puberty blockers. Those treatments are far more common and lawmakers behind the measure repeated misinformation about them, calling them “irreversible” and “harmful.”
The newly signed law forces transgender youth who are already receiving medicinal gender-affirming care to de-transition by the end of 2023. During testimony on the legislation, transgender adolescents, young adults and their parents told lawmakers the bill would force them to leave the state.
The ACLU of Indiana issued a statement following Holcomb’s signature and said it intends – as the ACLU has done in other states – to challenge new and proposed bans on gender-affirming care.
Executive director Jane Henegar called Holcomb’s decision a “devastating development for transgender youth in Indiana.”
“In addition to targeting an already vulnerable group, this law blatantly disregards the rights of parents and families to make decisions about their children’s health. The ACLU is dedicated to overturning this unconstitutional law and is confident the state will find itself completely incapable of defending it in court,” Henegar said in a statement.
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Sen. Tyler Johnson (R-Leo), the bill’s author, applauded Holcomb’s decision and said in a statement that the law maintains access to “sensible counseling.”
SEA 480 is part of a national push of anti-LGBTQ+ and specifically anti-trans legislation. More than 130 gender-affirming care bans have been filed in statehouses across the U.S., and more than 450 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been filed just since Jan. 1.
Indiana lawmakers filed about two dozen anti-LGBTQ+ bills during the 2023 legislative session, tripling previous years.
The measure is one of two gender-affirming care bans that moved forward after the midpoint of the legislative session. A ban on surgical gender-affirming care for people in state prisons is moving to the governor’s desk. It is likely to face a legal battle under the banner of cruel and unusual punishment for denying medical care.
This story has been updated.