MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Several bills that would prevent transgender youth from seeking gender-affirming therapies are making their way through state legislatures, including Tennessee’s.

CHOICES is a reproductive healthcare center in Memphis that prides itself on being inclusive and patient-centric.

Executive Director Jennifer Pepper said the center’s services include reproductive healthcare and resources for transgender youth and their families.

“Everybody has sexual reproductive healthcare needs, general healthcare needs, mental health care needs. Everybody deserves holistic care,” said Pepper.

Using that holistic approach, CHOICES’ services range from connecting transgender patients to mental health services to educating them about options like puberty blockers.

“Being able to take puberty blockers and put a pause on that transition in life, just gives folks some more time and space to really think about their gender, and how they want to present and how they want to live,” said Pepper.

Pepper added that puberty blockers are 100% reversible with no long-term effects.

But some lawmakers in Tennessee are looking to stop healthcare professionals from providing that care to patients.

HB 578 looks to make it punishable as a class A misdemeanor under a child abuse statute.

Under this same bill parents of transgender youth would need written statements from at least three physicians recommending gender-affirming therapies in order to receive such care.

Similarly, SB 126 bans healthcare providers from prescribing transgender minors hormone treatments.

These bills mirror dozens of others cropping up across the country, including one that was recently passed in Arkansas.

Supporters of the law say it protects children from making decisions they could regret later.

“How do we not protect children? When you’re 18, you can do anything you want,” said Arkansas Senator Alan Clark (R-Lonsdale).

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Several bills that would prevent transgender youth from seeking gender-affirming therapies are making their way through state legislatures, including Tennessee’s.

CHOICES is a reproductive healthcare center in Memphis that prides itself on being inclusive and patient-centric.

Executive Director Jennifer Pepper said the center’s services include reproductive healthcare and resources for transgender youth and their families.

“Everybody has sexual reproductive healthcare needs, general healthcare needs, mental health care needs. Everybody deserves holistic care,” said Pepper.

Using that holistic approach, CHOICES’ services range from connecting transgender patients to mental health services to educating them about options like puberty blockers.

“Being able to take puberty blockers and put a pause on that transition in life, just gives folks some more time and space to really think about their gender, and how they want to present and how they want to live,” said Pepper.

Pepper added that puberty blockers are 100% reversible with no long-term effects.

But some lawmakers in Tennessee are looking to stop healthcare professionals from providing that care to patients.

HB 578 looks to make it punishable as a class A misdemeanor under a child abuse statute.

Under this same bill parents of transgender youth would need written statements from at least three physicians recommending gender-affirming therapies in order to receive such care.

Similarly, SB 126 bans healthcare providers from prescribing transgender minors hormone treatments.

These bills mirror dozens of others cropping up across the country, including one that was recently passed in Arkansas.

Supporters of the law say it protects children from making decisions they could regret later.

“How do we not protect children? When you’re 18, you can do anything you want,” said Arkansas Senator Alan Clark (R-Lonsdale).

Transgender advocates said delaying care further isolates transgender youth and could have a deadly cost.

“It’s important for people to be able to make those decisions with experts and their parents not with politicians,” said Pepper.

For more information on Transgender resources, visit OUTMemphis here: https://www.outmemphis.org/resources/transgender-resources/

The Arkansas Legislature passed a sweeping law to prohibit doctors from treating transgender youth with hormone treatments, puberty blockers or surgery. And today the Republican governor, Asa Hutchinson, surprised many people by vetoing the bill. Jacqueline Froelich from KUAF joins us from Fayetteville to talk about the reasons the governor gave for his decision and what happens next.

Welcome.

JACQUELINE FROELICH, BYLINE: Thank you, Ari, for having me.

SHAPIRO: So what did Governor Hutchinson say about his reason for the veto?

FROELICH: Governor Hutchinson says he's aware the nation is looking at Arkansas as the general assembly passes bills that are a product of what he calls a culture war in America. And if this bill becomes law, it will create new standards of legislation. So this is what he said when he vetoed the bill.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ASA HUTCHINSON: House Bill 1570 would put the state as the definitive oracle of medical care, overriding parents, patients and health care experts.

SHAPIRO: And at what point did he decide to veto? I know he was under a lot of pressure. Can you tell us more about what led up to that?

FROELICH: I queried the governor last Tuesday about his plans for the bill. He said he needed to meet with trans Arkansans, activists, parents, as well as transgender-affirming medical providers before making a decision. And he did that. He has since learned that gender reassignment surgery - what conservative legislators here who support this measure characterize as genital mutilation - he has learned it is not performed on anyone under age 18 in Arkansas. He's learned that trans teens, with parental consent, are provided psychosocial medical support and hormone therapy to help them progress through their transition. He learned we only have a few hundred trans youth in the entire state of Arkansas that this law would affect. The governor has also received hundreds of thousands of communications from across the country asking him to veto the bill. And he says denying medical care to transgender youth will cause harm. And if enacted, the law will penalize medical providers and allow private insurers to refuse to cover gender-affirming care for people of any age.

SHAPIRO: But the legislature could override the veto. How would that happen?

FROELICH: To veto, House Bill 1570 will require at least 51 members of the House and 18 members of the Senate to vote to sustain. We have a majority-Republican legislature, so the ban on gender-affirming medical care for youth is expected to be passed, made into law here. I spoke with Holly Dickson. She's director of the ACLU of Arkansas. She says she's grateful to the governor for his veto. But if enacted by the legislature, sustained by the legislature, it will be deadly for trans kids, she says. She says denying trans people health care because of who they are is wrong and illegal, and she's prepared to challenge the law in court. She says the entire country is watching Arkansas right now.

SHAPIRO: So if a simple majority can override the veto and it is expected to pass and then be challenged in court, where does that leave the state? And what are people in Arkansas saying about this right now?

FROELICH: I've interviewed young, trans activists who are feeling profoundly victimized by Arkansas lawmakers right now. They believe these anti-trans laws have placed targets on their backs. I spoke with the mom of a trans child who says she's going through a grieving process watching these various laws unfold in the general assembly. She says she and her family may have to move to be safe. I spoke with a family practitioner who treats trans kids, who says trans youth in Arkansas will become more at risk for suicide because of this law.

SHAPIRO: That is Jacqueline Froelich of member station KUAF in Fayetteville, Ark.

Thank you.

FROELICH: You're welcome, Ari. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

 

Katie Mather
·2 min read
 

March 31 is the International Transgender Day of Visibility, a day dedicated to recognizing transgender and non-binary people around the world and acknowledging the work that still needs to be done to achieve justice for transgender people. In The Know will be celebrating trans stories during the month of March in a series called “Trans Visibility Matters,” in collaboration with the Phluid Project.

Schuyler Bailar wants you to know he didn’t simply wake up one day and “decide” to be a man.

“Being transgender is not a choice,” he told In The Know. “I have always been myself — a boy. I just haven’t always had the resources, language, courage or safety to be able to explain that identity to other people or even to myself.”

The 24-year-old is the first openly transgender Division I swimmer to compete for all four years of college. Since graduating from Harvard University in 2019, he has traveled internationally to talk about inclusion, body positivity and mental health awareness.

Bailar has come a long way since the days he spent Googling “transgender swimmer” and never finding results.

 

“I always encourage other folks to call trans people by the name and pronouns that we currently use as opposed to ones you might have used in the past,” he said. “This is the most simple and impactful way to say, ‘Hi, I see you for who you are.'”

His upcoming book, Obie is Man Enoughis a fictionalized story based on Bailar’s experience.

“Being transgender is just who you are,” he said simply. “Being transgender is just that — being transgender.”

Visit In The Know on March 31 for a special roundtable discussion Live Stream featuring Schuyler and other trans voices from around the world.

 

Several North Carolina Republican legislators have filed a bill that would block transgender women and girls from joining women's high school and college athletic teams, joining the culture-war tussle that has swept several states.

Their bill, which would apply to middle and high schools and colleges -- both public and private -- comes as legislators in nearly 30 other states have proposed similar prohibitions. Bills in Idaho and Mississippi have become law, while others are being debated in several more state legislatures.

A bill sponsor acknowledged he knew of no controversies in North Carolina when a transgender girl or woman had joined a team or competed in a sport designated for women. But it was important to be proactive in addressing the issue in North Carolina, said Rep. Mark Brody, a Union County Republican.

“I do not want to wait until biological females are pushed out of female sports, and all of their records are broken, scholarships lost and benefits of excelling are diminishing before this is addressed," Brody said on Tuesday at a Legislative Building news conference.

The North Carolina bill, filed on Monday, would require intramural and interscholastic teams to be designated as male or for men, female or for women, or co-ed.

Teams and sports designated as female or women’s activities wouldn’t be open to the male students, and a person’s sex would be defined as based “solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.”

The “Save Women’s Sports Act” also creates a legal cause of action for a “biological female student” to sue if she alleges suffering from a school violating the policy or retaliation from the school for reporting a violation.

LGBT groups and Democratic allies have blasted such legislation. They say the measures discriminate against transgender people who are already vulnerable to bigotry and just want to compete in sports like anyone else. President Joe Biden signed an executive order that bans discrimination based on gender identity in school sports and elsewhere.

Equality North Carolina said in a news release that the bill is rooted in “outdated generalizations about male and female bodies.”

“Young people all across this state, regardless of gender identity, deserve the opportunity to experience the benefits of being part of a sporting community -- especially when trans youth already face disproportionate barriers to success in learning environments,” Equality NC education policy director Rebby Kern said.

But the bill’s supporters said physical differences between men and women are clear and women face little chance to succeed if they are forced to compete with transgender women or girls. The North Carolina High School Athletic Association does have a policy that allows transgender students to participate in athletics, but Brody argues the policy's details lack transparency.

In South Dakota, Gov. Kristi Noem issued last week a partial veto of a transgender sports bill, and recommending to lawmakers that collegiate sports be excluded from the measure. Noem faced pressure from business interests to back off the legislation and social conservatives to embrace it.

Tuesday's news conference took place exactly five years after the General Assembly passed a law that in part required transgender people to use restrooms in many public buildings that corresponded to their sex at birth.

The law, known as House Bill 2, drew national condemnation and prompted several large corporations and sports teams to relocate events to other states or reconsider expanding in North Carolina. That measure was partially repealed in 2017.

 

A political want in Utah never did intersect with the world of sports. A bill that would have barred transgender athletes from playing girl school sports. It died before it reached the Utah Senate floor. That bill would have been on a collision course with the International Olympic Committee. It also would have had an impact on the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the National Basketball Association’s plans for major events. Those events include a men’s college basketball regional tournament and the National Basketball Association All-Star Game in Salt Lake City. Planned Major League Soccer and the National Women’s Soccer League events could be impacted too. Utah Republican Representative Kera Birkeland, claimed her bill would ensure fairness in women’s sports by making sure female athletes aren’t competing against those identified as male at birth. Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith might have had some input on political thinking according to the Salt Lake City Tribune. Smith might have reminded politicians that the NBA features 30 powerful owners with enormous financial clout.

President Joe Biden issued an executive order that prohibits discrimination in school sports based on gender identity. The NCAA has awarded Utah two regional women’s gymnastics tournaments and the 2022 skiing championship event. Utah is also scheduled to host the first and second round of the men’s basketball tournament regional in 2024. The NBA has scheduled its 2023 All-Star Game in Salt Lake City. The NCAA and NBA pulled events out of North Carolina because of a 2016 transgender bathroom law which was partially repealed in 2017. Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves just signed a bill into law barring transgender athletes in public schools and colleges from competing in women’s sports. The NBA does not do business in Mississippi but the NCAA does and that could be problematic for that state in the future.

 

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