Mississippi has banned gender-affirming care for transgender minors.
Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, signed a bill to this effect into law Tuesday. It bans puberty blockers, hormone treatment, and surgeries for the purpose of gender transition for anyone under 18 (although genital surgeries are almost never performed on minors and they’re unavailable in Mississippi at all). It goes into effect immediately. Violation is considered unprofessional conduct, punishable by revocation of a medical license, and health care professionals can be sued over violation as well.
“There is a dangerous movement that’s spreading across America today,” Reeves said at the signing ceremony, the Mississippi Clarion Ledger reports. “It’s advancing under the guise of a false ideology, and pseudoscience is being pushed onto our children through radical activists, social media, and online influencers, and it’s trying to convince our children that they are in the wrong body. “This dangerous movement attempts to convince these children that they’re just a surgery away from happiness. It threatens our children’s innocence, and it threatens their health.”
Last week, after the Mississippi Senate approved the bill, Reeves tweeted that gender-affirming procedures are “sick experimental treatments.” However, these procedures are endorsed by the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Psychiatric Association.
Anti-trans, far-right activist Matt Walsh appeared with Reeves. Walsh said medical professionals who perform or support gender-affirming care for minors are “child abusing quacks and soulless goblins,” according to the Clarion Ledger.
“Normal, commonsense, decent Americans” cannot endorse these procedures for young people, Walsh said. He added, “But sadly, many of the people who hold power in this country, who run our institutions do not pass this basic test of human decency. These vultures have lined up to feast on and profit from the confusion of innocent kids, confusion that the same vultures have intentionally fostered in the minds of our youth.”
But LGBTQ+ rights supporters pointed out that gender-affirming care is based on sound science and is often lifesaving. Rob Hill, Mississippi state director for the Human Rights Campaign, gathered with trans activists and allies in Jackson to listen to the signing ceremony via cell phone.
“My reaction to it initially was sadness because I know how this is going to impact families, trans kids in Mississippi who are already very vulnerable, but that turned as this bill was fast-tracked through the House and the Senate and now to the governor’s desk for his signature,” Hill told the Clarion Ledger. “It’s anger now. I’m angry at the governor and lawmakers for making decisions they shouldn’t.”
Hill also released a statement through HRC, saying, “This is an outrageous attack on LGBTQ+ Mississippians and their families. Like the politicians who wrote this bill, Gov. Reeves doesn’t have an ounce of medical training. He is in no position to dictate the decisions that doctors and their patients make about health care. This is nothing more than an attempt to inflate his flagging poll numbers ahead of a difficult reelection campaign.”
The American Civil Liberties Union and its Mississippi affiliate also released a statement. “This is a devastating development for transgender youth in Mississippi and heartbreaking for all of us who love and support them,” the statement said. “This care was already difficult to access across the state for transgender people of any age, but this law shuts the door on best-practice medical care and puts politics between parents, their children, and their doctors. But this fight is far from over — we are determined to build a future where Mississippi is a safe place to raise every child. Our politicians continue to fail trans youth, so it is up to each and every one of us to rise against their fear and ignorance and surround these young people with strength, safety, and love.” The ACLU has already promised legal action against the new law.
“Barely two months into the year, lawmakers in three states have made it their priority to deny transgender and nonbinary youth the ability to access best-practice medical care that many rely on to simply lead happy, healthy lives,” added Kasey Suffredini, vice president of advocacy and government affairs at the Trevor Project, in a press release. “Decisions around medical care should be made between parents, patients, and doctors — not by politicians. While this news is heartbreaking, we want to remind trans and nonbinary young people in Mississippi that the Trevor Project has your back. We will continue working with our partners and advocates on the ground to challenge these laws and fight for a world where all young people feel safe, supported and seen for who they truly are.”
The Trevor Project’s 2022 U.S. National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that 53 percent of transgender and nonbinary youth seriously considered suicide in the previous year, and nearly one in five attempted suicide. Seventy-one percent of transgender and nonbinary youth reported that they have experienced discrimination based on their gender identity, and those who have experienced such discrimination reported significantly higher rates of attempting suicide in the previous year than those who have not.
Mississippi joins Alabama,Arkansas, South Dakota, and Utah in adopting such a ban legislatively; Florida has done so with actions by medical boards. The Alabama and Arkansas laws are blocked while lawsuits against them are heard. Tennessee may be the next state to enact a ban on gender-affirming care, as both houses of its legislature have passed it and Gov. Bill Lee has promised to sign it.