SB 480, prohibiting gender affirming care passed out of the Senate Health Committee on an 8-5 vote. It prohibits doctors from providing necessary medical assistance to transgender kids who need their help. I suppose its proponents fancy that they are taking bold action to stop a rash of doctors recklessly cutting off penises and otherwise mutilating the genitals of momentarily confused children while their approving parents look on. But: a) that’s not what is happening in the real world (surgeries on minors aren’t happening in Indiana); and b) this legislation prohibits a lot more, including puberty blockers and hormone therapy.
I’m no expert, but I trust the General Assembly even less than I do myself with these decisions. I’m told puberty blockers are generally reversible and, while hormone therapy might be less so, whatever risks there are have to be weighed against the benefits of action and the risks of inaction. The mental health problems and suicidal ideation rates among transgender youth are appalling. Preventing these kids from getting medical help is cruel. The kids, their parents, and physicians need to navigate the costs and benefits of action and inaction. Getting the General Assembly involved and tying the hands of physicians isn’t going to help anyone.
This is cut and paste legislation being promoted by national groups. Why? Some of it is surely cynical. Divide the country with easily understood culture war issues that provoke an emotional response and profit. Liberals are emasculating our boys and making our girls masculine! Well, shit. That’s horrifying. Better vote for the real Americans who will put a stop to this hippie-dippy nonsense. Some of the politicians and a lot of their supporters likely believe in their cause. Men are men. Women are women. And “science” which says otherwise is against God and Nature. I think it’s also partly another manifestation of the nostalgia-sickness from which we suffer. Through the lens of nostalgia, the past was a simpler time where, among other things, gender roles were clear and the world was better.
Only they weren’t, really; and it wasn’t. In the past, there were still gay people and transgender people. Mostly, I think they just hid and suffered. And, in so many ways, the world was objectively worse in the past for almost everyone. But, it was especially worse for people who didn’t conform to the cultural defaults. We should aspire to make the world a place where people can take joy in their lives. This legislation is decidedly not that.
Edited to add link to a good article by Whitney Downard, writing for the Indiana Capital Chronicle. She notes that this is part of a nationwide effort to dictate how parents raise their transgender children. However, the number of children pursuing this treatment is small – 0.001% according to one measure.” Supporters mostly did not justify their committee votes; though Dennis Zent, R-Angola, shared his thoughts, “saying testimony about changing ideals in Europe influenced his affirmative vote.” Changing ideals in Europe?
Meanwhile the potential harm from this bill is very real:
“My child is 16 and I can tell you before he started in hormone therapy he was withdrawn, he didn’t have friends… there was a point when he didn’t leave the house,” Westville parent Alisha Hunter told the committee. “This (ban) will be life altering for my child… He’s happy and that will all change.”
Hunter shared her son’s multi-year journey, saying that her family was considering leaving the state — a sentiment shared by multiple other families who testified against the proposal.