Metro Weekly

Wyoming Bans Health Care for Trans Youth

Doctors and health professionals in Wyoming will now be prevented from prescribing gender-affirming treatments to transgender youth.

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon

The state of Wyoming has barred transgender minors from accessing gender-affirming treatments to help them socially and medically transition.

The bill, passed by the overwhelmingly Republican legislature and signed into effect by GOP Gov. Mark Gordon, penalizes any healthcare professionals who prescribe puberty blockers, hormone therapy, or surgical interventions to minors.

Doctors, pharmacists, and other healthcare providers who defy the law can have their licenses suspended or revoked.

Unlike some other Republican-led states, the bill does not have a “grandfather clause” that allows children to continue receiving treatment if they have already begun.

Critics claim this will effectively force transgender youth to “de-transition” against their will, potentially worsening or heightening their gender dysphoria.

Proponents of the bill, including State Sen. Anthony Bouchard (R-Cheyenne), argued that it needed to pass because the off-label use of hormones and puberty blockers is relatively recent, and the long-term effects of such treatments have not been studied sufficiently to determine whether they are detrimental to a person’s health.

Gordon offered muted support for the bill, saying he signed it to protect children. However, he had reservations about the government “straying into the personal affairs of families” — a big concern in a state known for its rugged individualism and libertarian-style leanings.

That concern was echoed by Sara Burlingame, a former Democratic state lawmaker who is now the executive director of Wyoming Equality, which opposed the bill.

“The idea that the government is going to reach into your living room and tell you what kind of health care your kid can receive — I just can’t underline enough how backward that would be for Wyoming,” Burlingame told The New York Times.

She added that she was “dismayed” by the governor’s move, but noted that Republican lawmakers were under pressure to pass the ban during an election year.

Wyoming’s ban is scheduled to take effect on July 1. But its implementation could potentially be delayed depending on a pending ruling on the fate of a similar Oklahoma law from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, under whose jurisdiction Wyoming falls.

Federal judges have temporarily blocked similar laws in Montana and Idaho from taking effect. Other state’s bans on gender-affirming care have been allowed to take effect, although Arkansas’ ban has been struck down as unconstitutional.

On the opposite side of the issue, 14 states and the District of Columbia have “shield laws” protecting minors’ ability to access gender-affirming care.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Wyoming, which opposed the law’s passage, blasted Gordon’s decision to sign it and implied that they may pursue future legal action.

“This ban won’t stop Wyomingites from being trans, but it will deny them critical support that helps struggling transgender youth grow up to become thriving transgender adults,” the organization said in a statement. “Gov. Gordon and supporters of Senate File 99 have chosen fearmongering, misrepresentations, intimidation, and extremist politics over the rights of families and the lives of transgender youth in Wyoming. But this fight is far from over.”

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