The Louisiana legislature is back in session and has turned its horrifying attention to trans youth. In its infinite ignorance, the legislature will consider four bills this session that would legally enshrine discrimination against trans youth. The proposals are so draconian, they will certainly result in the death of more trans youth if passed.
SB 104 would ban medical treatment for trans youth without parental consent. HB 575 does the same thing with the added provision that schools out trans students to their parents. SB 156 and HB 542 would prohibit trans girls from playing on girls’ sports teams in public schools.
As odious as all four bills are, SB 104 is particularly dangerous. Introduced by Sen. Mike Fesi, R-Houma, this bill requires trans and gender non-conforming people under the age of 18 to have parental consent from both their parents (even if only one has custody) before seeking physical or mental health care. The bill also prohibits medical professionals from discussing gender therapy and care with trans youth even if they are seeking healthcare for other issues. This gag order will ultimately harm trans youth, who are already at a higher risk for suicide, substance abuse, and other mental health issues.
SB 156 and HB 542, proposed by Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton and Rep. Beryl Amedée, R-Houma, respectively, would force trans students from kindergarten through college to compete in sports based on their sex assigned at birth or not at all. These bills are completely unnecessary because the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) already has rules in place stating athletes must compete in categories according to the gender on their birth certificate.
Louisiana Trans Advocates board member Elliot Wade says of the so-called Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, “Most especially, for K-8th graders, this is a time where you are having fun, you are really just enjoying the sport, and the participation in it. To take that away or make a barrier to access, I don’t feel that’s right.”
According to The Action Network, HB 575, sponsored by Rep. Michael “Gabe” Firment, R-Pollock, would “subject medical providers to criminal penalties, including imprisonment, for providing medically necessary gender affirming health care to any trans person under 18. It would also subject teachers and other school personnel to criminal penalties if they did not out a trans student to their parents, placing young people at risk of violence and homelessness.
Dylan Waguespack, President of Louisiana Trans Advocates, has argued that having a teacher or counselor affirm a transgender or gender nonconforming child’s identity can help reduce the risk that a teenager will harm themselves.
Legal scholars doubt the proposed legislation would survive constitutional challenges. For example, Chris Kaiser, the advocacy director at the ACLU of Louisiana, said it’s unlikely any of the legislation would survive legal challenges, noting that federal courts have been consistent and clear that federal law protects transgender people. The only law implemented banning transgender women in sports, in Idaho, was struck down by a federal judge in August.
Constitutionality notwithstanding, our community needs to speak out against these transphobic proposals now, before the slab-faced so-called solons in Baton Rouge pass these transphobic atrocities.
Louisiana Trans Advocates has contacted the authors of the four bills asking them to withdraw the legislation: “Trans youth in Louisiana face grave harm if HB 542, HB 575, SB 104, and SB 156 become law. These bills each, in some way, remove trans youths’ right to privacy and further marginalize them in school, in their families, and in our communities. Louisianans don’t support discrimination, and we don’t support picking on young people whose lives are hard enough without the additional burdens your bills place on them. Please withdraw these bills and consider meeting with trans young people and our families so that we can share with you the very real issues we face, which your bills do nothing to address.”
Now it’s our turn to let the legislature know how we feel about these harmful proposals. Here is the contact information for the sponsors of these ill-conceived bills. Contact them today and tell them you stand with our trans youth.
Rep. Beryl Amedée, R-Houma, HB 542 (985) 858-2967 firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton, SB 156 (985) 839-3936 email@example.com
Sen. Mike Fesi, R-Houma, SB 104 (985) 858-2979 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Michael “Gabe” Firment, R-Pollock, HB 575 (318) 765-9606 email@example.com