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House Republicans Schedule ‘Mean-Spirited’ Hearing on Gender-Affirming Care

House Republicans Schedule ‘Mean-Spirited’ Hearing on Gender-Affirming Care

Reps. Chip Roy, Mike Johnson, and Harriet Hageman

House Republicans are continuing their party’s culture war against the LGBTQ+ community.


The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Consitution and Limited Government has scheduled a hearing this week ostensibly to discuss gender-affirming medical care. No doctors will testify.

Instead, during Thursday morning’s hearing titled “The Dangers and Due Process Violations of ‘Gender-Affirming Care’ for Children,” lawmakers will hear from a former college athlete who took issue with a transgender team member’s participation, an anti-LGBTQ+ advocate from a conservative interest group, a member of the Federalist Society, and a person who had access to gender-affirming care, decided to detransition, and now advocates against the care for youth.

Republicans invited former University of Pennsylvania swimmer (and Lia Thomas critic) Paula Scanlan, detransitioner Chloe Cole, Director for Family Studies at the far-right anti-LGBTQ+ group Family Research Council Jennifer Bauwens, and Federalist Society member May Mailman, who is also a senior fellow at the conservative Independent Women’s Law Center, to testify.

Democrats, already frustrated with Republican efforts to strip funding from all bills benefiting the LGBTQ+ community, called the hearing a sham.

"The upcoming House Judiciary Constitution Subcommittee hearing is the latest attempt by extremist Republicans to weaponize Congress and inject their culture wars into families’ private health care decisions,” Pennsylvania Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, tells The Advocate. “Gender-affirming care is safe, effective, medically necessary, and supported by every major reputable medical association. The science is not up for debate. This hearing is nothing more than a concerted effort to cultivate fear and stigmatize vulnerable communities in order to pursue an extremist agenda and political power."

Rep. Cori Bush, who represents Missouri and sits on the subcommittee, also criticized the GOP move.

“Though despicable, it is not surprising that Republicans are holding a hearing whose sole purpose is to platform bigotry and hate,” she tells The Advocate. “This hearing isn’t based on facts or reality; it reflects an extreme and unpopular agenda that targets vulnerable people and doesn’t make anyone’s life better off. It is further proof Republicans don’t know how to legislate unless it involves stripping the rights of historically marginalized communities. I will always stand unequivocally with the trans community as they fight for dignity and respect.”

Other House Democrats reiterated the continued assault by Republicans on bodily autonomy.

“Another week, and it’s another hearing in which we’re beating up on queer and trans kids and their families, another week in which the Republican Conference wants to bully Americans, and it is so outrageous that they’re spending our time making us essentially accomplices in their diabolical machinations to beat up on Americans who are just trying to live their lives,” Vermont Democratic Rep. Becca Balint tells The Advocate. Balint also sits on the subcommittee.

“It’s just so disgusting,” adds Balint, co-chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus,. “This hearing does not need to happen. All the other hearings that we’ve had in which these issues have come up don’t need to happen, and it’s part of the GOP strategy, this election cycle, to put queer and trans kids and their families on every single issue that we’re trying to discuss here in Congress. And it’s just disgusting.”

Balint points out the shameless hypocrisy of the House majority.

“It flies in the face of everything Republicans say that they are around limited government and they are always talking about parental rights. Here they are inserting themselves into the lives of these families. We should be supporting Americans and their families, period. They know best what they need for their children.”

She says that in Vermont, her constituents are dealing with extreme flooding and other daily issues and aren’t concerned with the culture war issues the GOP seeks to fight over.

“We have farms that have been destroyed. We have businesses that have been destroyed and families in incredible need right now,” she says. “you can look at every single congressional district across the country, and they are feeling the effects of climate change. They are struggling with health care that’s not affordable.”

Balint says it would be one thing if House Republicans held hearings with witnesses whose testimony was germane and could be relied upon. Instead, Republicans have invited known anti-trans activists with political agendas and no medical expertise.

“The witnesses they’re bringing are not credible,” Balint notes. “And on the other side, you’ve got 1.3 million US doctors saying that gender-affirming care is what is needed to support these children best.”

Every major medical association in the U.S. has supported gender-affirming care for transgender youth.

Balint also explains the problem of finding the occasional detransitioner and holding up their experience as an example of why care should be banned for others.

Detransitioning refers to stopping or reversing a gender transition, which may involve medical treatment or cosmetic changes.

“Republicans often seek out people who are deciding to detransition, and then they hold them up as an example of a rampant situation within the queer and trans community,” Balint says. “The only people who really understand their experiences are those queer and trans people going through those experiences. And we know that there are people, I believe it’s less than 2 percent of Americans, who decide to transition and then have a very long journey of figuring out what identity they feel most comfortable with. But again, these are decisions that are made by people in consultation with their families and their doctors.

“The government should not be in a situation of deciding for people writ large what is appropriate care for them.”

She adds, “It’s just outrageous, an incredible waste of time, but it’s also just so mean-spirited.”

On Tuesday afternoon, the Congressional Equality Caucus condemned GOP riders on a slate of 2024 appropriations bills that Republicans targeted with anti-LGBTQ+ measures. Republicans added more than 40 anti-equality provisions in next year’s budget bills. Those bills move to the House floor this week.

Among the riders are those that restrict access to gender-affirming care or limit funding for organizations that provide it, riders that prohibit the use of funds to fly Pride flags in certain facilities, and riders that would restrict funding for diversity, equity, and inclusion programs. Drag show riders were also added by Republicans, which prevent performances from being held in defense and other operations. "Riders" is a term for provisions in bills that are not relevant to a bill's main purpose.

Funds appropriated by the defense bill are prohibited from supporting events “that violate the Department of Defense Joint Ethics Regulation or bring discredit upon the military, such as a drag queen story hour for children or the use of drag queens as military recruiters.”

Drag queen workshops, performances, and documentaries are prohibited by a rider to a bill dealing with state, foreign operations, and related programs.

“This Congress, extreme MAGA Republicans are using the appropriations process to further their radical agenda and attack the LGBTQI+ community,” said Equality Caucus Chair Mark Pocan of Wisconsin in a press release. “Motivated by bigotry and the desire to appeal to the GOP extremist base, more than 40 anti-equality provisions across the 12 appropriations bills were passed. Last week, they went even further and cut millions of dollars in funding for members’ community projects that would have tackled LGBTQI+ homelessness and housing insecurity. I condemn these discriminatory attacks and remain committed to ensuring none of these awful provisions make it into the final funding bill that becomes law.”

The House Appropriations Committee ranking member and an Equality Caucus member, Connecticut’s Rep. Rosa DeLauro, added, “Instead of responsibly working to pass Appropriations bills that fund the programs and services all Americans rely on, the majority has opted to distract from the calamitous ramifications of their dangerous spending cuts by loading up must-pass legislation with indefensible riders that subject some of the most vulnerable communities to discrimination.”

She explained, “We are appropriators. Our job is to fund the federal government. The bills our committee produces are statements of our priorities and our values as a country. To that end, the majority has shown they have no values, and no priorities, and are solely focused on how to appease their most extreme caucus members, to greenlight discrimination and impose second-class status on LGBTQ+ Americans, and to defund American workers, seniors, families, and veterans.”

Pictured above: Republican Reps. Chip Roy, Mike Johnson, and Harriet Hageman

Editor’s note: This article was updated to include comments from Missouri Rep. Cori Bush.

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