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Indiana House expected to vote on ban on gender affirming care for minors

Full Indiana House to vote on ban of gender affirming care for minors
Full Indiana House to vote on ban of gender affirming care for minors 00:25

CHICAGO (CBS/AP) -- Protesters in Indiana are trying to stop a new law that would ban gender affirming care for youth.

The legislation would prohibit care givers from providing gender transition procedures to minors. It also bans puberty blockers and hormone therapy. 

The Indiana House Public Health Committee advanced the bill on Tuesday, and the full House is expected to vote on it soon. If approved, it would go to Gov. Eric Holcomb for his signature.

The bill passed the Indiana Senate 36-12 last month, sending it to the House despite a contentious committee hearing that primarily featured testimony from vocal opponents. Witnesses said the types of care the bill would ban, such as hormone therapy and puberty blockers, is vital and often life-saving for trans kids.

"I'm not afraid to be who I really am anymore," Damian Ryan, a 17-year-old trans teenager from Fishers, Indiana, said during that Senate committee hearing last month.

Proponents of the legislation, however, have voiced concerns about the number of gender-transition surgeries, which the bill would also ban, taking place in the state. The only Indiana hospital that performs such procedures told senators that doctors typically do not refer minors for those surgeries.

With respect to hormone therapy, Republicans who favor the bill have cited concerns that the treatments are irreversible, an idea medical providers have challenged.

"A child cannot understand the weight and permanency of these decisions," said the bill's author, Republican Sen. Tyler Johnson, an emergency medicine physician from Leo-Cedarville, Indiana. "Given the pressures put on parents, the irreversible nature of these procedures and the unknown long-term effects, there's no such thing as true informed consent."

GOP Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray called the banned treatments "uncertain, unproven, and life-altering."

"When it comes to either surgery or treatment by hormones or other things like that, I think you're better off waiting until they get to be 18 and be able to make that determination themselves," Bray told reporters after the Senate vote.

Nationally, state lawmakers are approving extensive measures against LGBTQ individuals this year, from bills targeting trans athletes and drag performers to ones limiting gender-affirming care. Indiana's legislative session has been largely defined by LGBTQ issues, especially those affecting schools and young people.

Also last month, Republican Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill to ban gender-affirming care in the state. Utah's Republican governor also signed a ban on such care in January, while judges have temporarily blocked similar laws in Arkansas and Alabama.

Overall, state lawmakers in the U.S. have introduced more than 480 bills affecting transgender people's ability to receive gender affirming care, limiting sex education on gender transitioning, limiting transgender students from participating in sports, and targeting other transgender rights, according to the Trans Legislation Tracker, which compiles information from civil rights groups and other sources.

"I would argue that we're bullying children," Indiana Democratic Sen. Shelli Yoder said after last month's Senate vote. "A group of adult legislators are targeting kids because of who they are."

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