FRANKFURT, Ky. — Kentucky Republican lawmakers on Wednesday overrode the Democratic governor’s veto of a bill regulating some of the most personal aspects of life for transgender youth, from banning access to gender-affirming health care to restricting bathrooms. that they can use. .
Votes to override Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto were lopsided in both houses, where the Republican Party holds a large majority, and came on the penultimate day of this year’s legislative session. The Senate voted 29-8 to overturn Beshear’s Veto. A short time later, the House completed the nullification with a vote of 76 to 23.
As emotions ran high, some people protesting the bill from the gallery of the House were removed and arrested after their prolonged chants echoed through the chamber. The protesters, with their hands tied, chanted «we are no more here» while waiting to be taken out of the Capitol.
Nineteen people were arrested and charged with third-degree trespassing after the sergeant-at-arms requested help to restore order, the Kentucky State Police said. Officers gave each person “the choice to leave without any police action or be arrested,” said Capt. Paul Blanton, a spokesman for the state police.
«I think it’s unfortunate that it got to that level and they were certainly given, as I’ve been told since, multiple opportunities to silence their chants or to leave voluntarily,» House Speaker David, Republican, said later. osborne.
Opponents of the bill framed the issue as a fight for civil rights. Democratic Rep. Sarah Stalker said, «Kentucky will be on the wrong side of history» by signing the measure into law.
Debate over the transgender bill will likely spill over into this year’s gubernatorial campaign, with Beshear’s veto drawing condemnation from the GOP as he seeks re-election to a second term. A legal fight is also brewing. The Kentucky American Civil Liberties Union reaffirmed that it intends to “take this fight to court” to try to preserve access to healthcare options for transgender youth.
“Although we lost the battle in the legislature, our defeat is temporary. We will not lose in court,” said Chris Hartman, executive director of the Fairness Campaign, an LGBTQ+ advocacy organization.
Hailing the veto override, David Walls, executive director of The Family Foundation, said the bill aligns “policy with the truth that every child is created male or female and deserves to be loved, treated with dignity and accepted by those». they really are.»
Activists from both sides of the impassioned debate gathered in the state house to make competitive calls before lawmakers took up the transgender bill after a lengthy recess.
In a rally that drew hundreds of transgender rights advocates, trans teen Sun Pacyga held up a sign outlining a grim review of Republican legislation. The sign read: «Our blood is on your hands.»
“If restricted access to gender-affirming healthcare is passed, I think trans kids will die from it,” said the 17-year-old student, voicing lingering concern among critics of the bill that the restrictions could lead to an increase in adolescent suicides.
Supporters of the bill rallied to defend the measure, saying it protects trans children from undergoing gender-affirming treatments they might regret as adults. Studies show such regret is rarehowever.
“We cannot allow people to continue down the path of fantasy, where they will end up 10, 20, 30 years from now and find themselves miserable because of the decisions they made when they were young,” the Republican representative said. Shane Baker at a rally.
Legislation in Kentucky is part of a national movementand state lawmakers passed sweeping measures restricting the rights of LGBTQ+ people this year, from bills targeting trans athletes and drag performers to measures limiting gender-affirming care.
At least 11 states have enacted laws restricting or prohibiting gender-affirming care for minors: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Utah, South Dakota, and West Virginia. Federal judges have blocked enforcement of the laws in Alabama and Arkansas, and nearly two dozen states are considering bills this year to restrict or ban care.
The debate among Kentucky lawmakers reflected the passionate arguments made at the rallies.
“We are denying families, their doctors and their therapists the right to make medically informed decisions for their families,” Democratic Sen. Karen Berg said in opposing the bill. Berg read what her son, Henry Berg-Brousseau, wrote while advocating for transgender rights shortly before his death late last year. at 24 years old. The cause was suicide, her mother said.
Republican Senator Robby Mills said he supported the bill because of his belief that «puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, when administered to young people under the age of 18 for the purpose of altering their appearance, are dangerous.» for the health of that child.
Transgender medical treatments have long been available in the United States and are supported by major medical associations.
The Kentucky measure will ban gender affirming care for minorities. It will ban gender reassignment surgery for anyone under the age of 18, as well as the use of puberty blockers and hormones, and inpatient and outpatient gender-affirming hospital services.
Doctors will have to set a schedule to «untransition» kids already taking puberty blockers or undergoing hormone therapy. They may continue to provide care as a child’s treatments decline, if removing them from treatment immediately would harm the child.
The parts of the bill dealing with gender-affirming healthcare will take effect in about three months.
The bill will not allow schools to discuss sexual orientation or gender identity with students of any age. It will also require school districts to devise restroom policies that, «at a minimum,» do not allow transgender children to use the restroom in accordance with their gender identities.
In addition, it will allow teachers to refuse to refer to transgender students by the pronouns they use and will require schools to notify parents when lessons related to human sexuality will be taught.
Another trans teen, Hazel Hardesty, said the potential discontinuation of gender-affirming healthcare would mean «my male puberty would continue» which would «cause a lot of mental anguish.»
“People don’t even understand how you feel,” the 16-year-old said in an interview at a rally. “Going through the wrong puberty, every day your body is a little further away than you feel. And eventually you don’t even recognize yourself in the mirror.»