Author archives: Chantel Hoyt

State Round-Up: A Growing Number of States Are Protecting Minors from Transgenderism

by Chantel Hoyt

May 19, 2021

Editor’s note: This is the first in an ongoing series about key issues that states have advanced in 2021.

The cultural phenomenon of transgenderism is growing at an astonishing rate. The number of gender reassignment clinics in the United States has increased from one in 2007 to 50 today. In her book, Irreversible Damage, Abigail Shrier reports that most Western countries have seen a 1,000-5,000 percent increase in teenage females seeking treatment from gender clinics and psychologists—many of whom recommend that these girls socially and physically transition through hormones and sometimes surgery. This is aimed at treating what is known as gender dysphoria, defined by the American Psychological Association as “psychological distress that results from incongruence between one’s sex assigned at birth and one’s gender identity.”

One’s sex is never “assigned at birth”; it is always objective and observable by the time of birth. Propagating an ideology of fluid sexuality undermines a scientific understanding of human anatomy and damages children’s lives. The staggering growth of transgender ideology increasingly pressures children to undergo life-altering procedures with puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and irreversible surgeries. These unscientific, destructive gender transition procedures should not be allowed to interrupt the development of children and irreversibly alter their bodies.

States have been taking bold steps to protect vulnerable minors from being harmed by the unscientific idea that people can be “born in the wrong body.” To date, a total of 20 states have introduced gender transition bans in 2021. On April 6, Arkansas became the first state in the nation to ban the use of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and gender reassignment surgeries for the purpose of gender transition on individuals under 18 when the legislature enacted House Bill 1570, the Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act, over the governor’s veto.

The Arkansas SAFE Act can be considered the “gold standard” for gender transition procedure bans. Arkansas HB 1570 has four key provisions:

  1. It protects minors from puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and gender transition surgeries (with a professional penalty).
  2. It bans the use of public funds and/or insurance coverage mandates for such procedures on minors.
  3. It includes an exception for the treatment of minors with a diagnosis of a physiological intersex disorder.
  4. It provides legal remedies for minors who have been permanently disfigured and/or sterilized by such procedures.

In addition to Arkansas, four states introduced fairly strong bills this year: Kentucky (HB 336), Mississippi (SB 2171), Iowa (HF 193), and North Carolina (S 514). Each of these bills contains a prohibition and professional penalty (Iowa’s bill includes a civil penalty as well), an exception for minors with a physiological intersex disorder, and legal remedies for minors harmed by such procedures. However, they do not prohibit medical insurance from covering such procedures for minors or put any restrictions on public funds being used for such purposes.

Two other states, Georgia (HB 401) and Indiana (HB 1505, SB 224), also introduced bills with all but the insurance/public funding ban. Yet, these bills impose criminal as opposed to professional penalties, which may make them more difficult to pass. Tennessee’s bills (SB 657 and HB 578), which also contain criminal penalties, are diluted because they allow minors who have entered puberty to be subjected to such procedures, provided they have parental consent and the written consent of two doctors and a psychiatrist. Family Research Council does not support allowing for medical experimentation on minors before they are old enough to make adult decisions.

Twelve states this year have introduced protections for minors that contain criminal penalties but lack legal remedies and/or exceptions for children with physiological intersex disorders (in addition to lacking provisions addressing insurance and public funds). They are:

  • Alabama (SB 10, HB 1, no private right of action)
  • Arizona (SB 1511, lacks key definitions, no private right of action)
  • Florida (HB 935, no private right of action)
  • Kansas (SB 214, HB 2210, no private right of action)
  • Louisiana (HB 575, no private right of action)
  • Missouri (SB 442, lacks key definitions, no exception for intersex disorders, no private right of action)
  • Montana (HB 113, lacks key definitions, no exception for intersex disorders)
  • Oklahoma (SB 583, SB 676, no private right of action, no exception for intersex disorders)
  • South Carolina (HB 4047, no private right of action)
  • Texas (HB 2693, HB 1399, SB 1311, lacks key definitions, no private right of action)
  • Utah (HB 92, no private right of action)
  • West Virginia (HB 2171, no private right of action)

Bills like these have been the most common for gender transition bans since 2017. They would need to add a prohibition on insurance coverage and/or public funding, an exception for minors with intersex disorders, and stronger legal remedies, in addition to trading their criminal penalties for professional penalties.

Two states, Missouri and Montana, introduced very weak bills in 2021. Missouri HB 33 includes a prohibition and professional penalty but no other provisions. Montana HB 427, despite including each key provision besides one addressing insurance and public funds, only prohibits gender reassignment surgery, not the use of cross-sex hormones or puberty blockers. Since the latter is what is most often used on minors, this makes the bill much weaker.

Eight additional states introduced bills from 2017 to 2020. The strongest of these was Minnesota HF 4694, which included each of the key provisions, including a ban on insurance coverage. However, it imposed a civil penalty instead of a professional penalty, had slightly weaker definitions, and lacked findings, among other drawbacks. The next strongest of these bills was Ohio HB 513, which lacked an insurance coverage/public funding ban and imposed criminal penalties. Four of these states—Illinois (HB 3515, 2019), Idaho (H 465, 2019), South Carolina (4716, 2020), and South Dakota (HB 1057, 2020)—lacked most key provisions. Additionally, Idaho’s bill contained criminal penalties and South Dakota’s bill contained a civil penalty, as opposed to a professional penalty. New Hampshire’s bill (HB 1532, 2018) was especially weak, prohibiting gender reassignment surgery for minors but containing no other provisions.

Over the past four years, one thing has been made clear—states want to protect their minors from life-altering procedures such as puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and irreversible surgeries. They have come to grips with the reality that “gender transition” is an experiment. No intervention can change a person’s genetic composition, and the best studies have demonstrated no reduction in the number of completed suicides among those who have transitioned. We have also seen states proposing stronger, more successful bills each year. Arkansas’ SAFE Act made it the first state to pass potent protections for minors. Arkansas HB 1570 is a watermark and standard that states are sure to follow, making a safer United States for future generations.

Arkansas Moves to Protect Children from Gender Transition Procedures

by Chantel Hoyt

March 25, 2021

The Arkansas Senate is currently considering HB 1570, the Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act. This bill aims to protect children from invasive and untested procedures associated with “gender transition,” as these types of procedures pose serious health risks and cannot be fully reversed. Such drugs and procedures are based on the unscientific theory that some individuals can be born in the “wrong” body. Eighteen states have introduced similar legislation so far in 2021.

The Arkansas SAFE Act prohibits health care professionals from performing gender reassignment surgeries or providing puberty-blocking drugs and cross-sex hormones for the purpose of gender transition to individuals under the age of 18. Health care professionals found to be in violation of this policy would have their medical licenses revoked. The bill also prohibits medical insurance from covering such treatments for minors. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Robin Lundstrum of Arkansas’ 87th district (Benton and Washington counties) and recently passed the House floor with a vote of 70-22. It is currently awaiting action in the Senate. 

The liberal news media has decried this legislation’s so-called “assault” on transgender rights.  Back in January 2020, when only six states had introduced such legislation, CNN quoted Ryan Thoreson, a Yale law school lecturer and LGBT rights researcher, as saying, “There are alarming signals that this could pass in conservative states.” Thoreson also referred to these bills as part of a series of “attacks on transgender youths” by lawmakers and said that the proposed laws would restrict young people’s access to “basic health care.” The CNN article also insisted that bills like these could “prove devastating to transgender children” and suggested that children who cannot obtain such procedures are more likely to commit suicide.

You don’t have to be a physician to know that describing gender reassignment surgery and hormone therapy as “basic health care” is ludicrous. In what other instance would the suppression of natural bodily development and removal of healthy or non-diseased body parts from children (or anyone for, that matter) be considered permissible, let alone essential health care? 

Transgender activists typically argue that securing access to gender transition procedures is really about the child’s mental health, theorizing that these procedures are the only thing that will cure their gender dysphoria and reduce their distress. This idea might be more compelling if it had any scientific evidence to back it up. We currently have no good evidence that these procedures even accomplish their stated purpose—improving children’s mental health. FRC argues that such evidence would be “absolutely necessary to justify such radical and unnatural physical intervention.”

This lack of evidence, combined with the fact that most children with gender dysphoria will outgrow their condition and not identify as transgender adults, makes the legality of performing gender transition procedures on children and activists’ advocacy for said procedures even more troubling. For most kids with gender incongruity, puberty is the cure, not the disease.

The number of proposed bills aimed at protecting minors from the harmful effects of gender transition procedures has seen a sharp rise in the past two years. This trend, combined with conservative wins in state legislatures in the most recent election, is cause for optimism. Hopefully, states will be able to pass common-sense legislation that protects children from such harmful practices, nurturing them rather than sacrificing their health and well-being on the altar of unscientific transgender ideology. 

Based on its recent success, the Arkansas SAFE Act could very well be the first bill of its kind to pass a state legislature, but it needs your help! If you (or your family and friends) live in Arkansas, please speak up now and ask your elected officials to protect minors from the growing pressure to treat puberty like a disease.

Elected Leaders Are Moving to Protect Children and Religious Freedom

by Chantel Hoyt

March 22, 2021

In recent weeks, congressional Republicans introduced legislation that would allow faith-based child welfare agencies to operate in line with their convictions and protect their religious freedom. The Senate version of the bill was sponsored by Senators John Kennedy (R-La.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) while Representative Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) introduced a companion bill in the House. Speaking about the bill, Scott said, “At a time where religious freedoms are under assault, the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act [CWPIA] is a necessary protection for those who are living according to their convictions.”

Several states have also recognized the need for such legislation. In recent weeks, Massachusetts, South Carolina, and Kentucky have all introduced legislation that aims to provide the same protections to faith-based child welfare agencies. Specifically, this includes the freedom to place children in homes consistent with their beliefs on biblical family life and sexuality.

While it is the first time this type of legislation has been introduced in these three states, their introduction, as well as the introduction of the federal CWPIA, signals broader concern around the country about the Biden administration’s focus on LGBT issues and how it will impact religious liberty. With President Biden’s support for the Equality Act—a bill that would negatively impact these faith-based agencies (and many other groups)—the future of faith-based child welfare agencies is uncertain. But those committed to preserving religious freedom aren’t likely to go down without a fight.

Legislatures in eight different states have felt the need to pass legislation to protect foster and adoption care agencies, beginning in 2012 (Virginia) and most recently in 2020 (Tennessee). Such legislation allows these agencies to operate in a way consistent with their religious beliefs, without suffering from license revocation, contract termination, or other adverse action from the state. This growing threat has already been seen in Michigan, South Carolina, Illinois, and Massachusetts as well as cities like San Francisco and Philadelphia. In many of these instances, faith-based foster and adoption care agencies have been forced to forego their religious beliefs, serve in a severely limited capacity, and even close their doors because they were not willing to compromise on their principles regarding marriage and sexuality.

Although such discriminatory actions harm the children these agencies serve, opponents of faith-based organizations tend to only focus on LGBT couples who are ‘turned away,’ supposedly limiting the pool of parents willing to help children in need. However, this logic makes two false assumptions.

The first is that faith-based child welfare agencies are LGBT couples’ only option to become parents. This is simply not the case. The majority of agencies in the country are more than willing to work with same-sex couples. Only about 25 percent of agencies are faith-based and have narrow criteria potential parents must meet. For example, in Philadelphia in 2018, only two out of the nearly 30 child welfare agencies were faith-based. The city terminated these agencies’ contracts anyway. The lawsuit filed against the city by foster parents who worked with Catholic Social Services has shown that the agency had not denied service or turned away anyone because of their LGBT status. Further, it showed that should they be unable to partner with a couple that approaches them, they would help that couple connect with one of the other 29 agencies in the city. This is not enough for the activists. Clearly, they were sued because of their religious belief. The picture of a same-sex couple being turned away from a faith-based agency and having nowhere else to turn is simply inaccurate.  

The second false assumption is that more children will receive homes and much needed care if faith-based agencies are forced to make the choice between their beliefs and continuing to help those in need. The reality, though, is that fewer children will receive the care they need because some of the highest performing and longest serving agencies will be shut down or sidelined simply because they’re faith-based. Illinois’ foster and adoption system, for example, seems to still be suffering after the closure of Catholic Charities in 2011. Sadly, Illinois has seen a 14 percent decrease in the number of non-relative foster care beds or homes from 2012 to 2017, and the state lost 1,547 foster homes during that same time period—homes that could have been available to serve foster children in need. It should go without saying that this will harm children in the foster care and adoption systems.

Protecting the ability of faith-based child welfare agencies to continue operating in accordance with their religious beliefs is good for everyone. It helps more children receive care by increasing the number of agencies able to serve them. Allowing religious organizations of any kind to operate alongside non-religious ones is crucial to preserve freedom of religion in our society and to ensure that we are able to serve as many children in need as possible.

We are thankful for the many states and those in Congress who are taking steps to protect this crucial area of religious freedom.

Alabama Seeks to Protect Minors from Gender Transition Drugs and Surgeries

by Chantel Hoyt

February 18, 2021

Alabama lawmakers are currently considering two bills that would prohibit doctors from prescribing gender transition drugs, hormones, and surgeries to minors. Known as the “Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Acts,” these bills are designed to protect minors who are struggling with gender confusion from harmful procedures that cannot be fully reversed later and that they may likely come to regret.

These bills also prohibit nurses, counselors, and school personnel from withholding information about a child’s gender confusion from the child’s parents. Senate Bill 10, introduced by Representative Shay Shelnutt of the state’s 17th district, passed the Senate Healthcare Committee in a vote of 11 to 2 last Wednesday, while House Bill 1 is still awaiting a vote after being the subject of a public hearing by the House Judiciary Committee on the same day. Under both bills, doctors who violate such laws would face criminal charges.

The Alabama House version of the bill was introduced by Republican Wes Allen last year. “When I learned that this was going on in our state of Alabama, I was really shocked that puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones were being given to minors,” he said on Washington Watch recently. When asked about his motivation behind the bill, Allen replied that it is simply about protecting children. “The most important thing we can be doing as legislators is taking care and protecting children, so that’s really the motivation behind it.” 

Rep. Allen also spoke briefly about how children lack the proper ability to make life-altering decisions, as well as studies that suggest that 85-90 percent of children with gender dysphoria will eventually outgrow such issues and “grow to accept how God made them and grow to accept their bodies.” Allen was hopeful about the success of House Bill 1: “We’ve got to make sure we protect our kids, and we’re looking forward to advocating for this bill in the weeks to come.”

Chantel Hoyt is a Research Assistant with State & Local Affairs at Family Research Council.

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