Reeves claims "activists" are “persuading kids they can live as a girl if they’re a boy and live as a boy if they’re a girl.” Source: Twitter
Update: Gov. Tate Reeves signed HB1125 into law February 28.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said he intends to sign House Bill 1125, a bill banning gender-affirming care for state residents below the age of 18. Reeves claims on Twitter that “sterilizing and castrating children in the name of new gender ideology is wrong. “That plain truth is somehow controversial in today’s world.”
The real controversy may be how flagrantly Reeves denies multiple medical studies that disagree with him on this issue. The World Health Organization defines gender-affirming care as a range of social, psychological, behavioral, and medical interventions “designed to support and affirm an individual’s gender identity” when it conflicts with the gender they were assigned at birth. The intervention most commonly takes the form of patient-led counseling and hormone therapy. The hormone therapy is temporary, and its results stop as soon as the patient ends treatment. Any delayed effects, including unwanted face or body hair, premature hair loss, and secondary sex characteristics kick in soon after.
Surgery, including procedures to reduce a person’s Adam’s Apple, or to align their chest or genitalia with their gender identity, is rarely provided to people under 18. One New York Times article estimates there were 203 gender-affirming surgeries performed on minors in 2021. In comparison, breast augmentation in minors is completely legal, and 3,200 girls ages 13 to 19 received cosmetic breast implants in 2020. An additional 4,700 had breast reductions.
Reeves and other culture-warrior governors, like Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, signed bills prohibiting doctors from providing gender-affirming treatments under the guise that hormone treatments are “experimental.” The Mississippi bill also describes itself as an act to “regulate experimental adolescent procedures.” But the International Journal of Transgender Health explains that puberty delaying medication is no more experimental “than standard pediatric practice when there are no licensed treatment options for a pediatric patient population.”
Moreover, research consistently undermines claims by Reeves and Republican Party idealogues that they have the best interest of children at heart. Research finds transgender medical care to be associated with positive mental health outcomes and reduced suicide risk. A 2021 peer-reviewed study by suicide prevention nonprofit, The Trevor Project, which interviewed more than 9,000 youth receiving gender-affirming hormone therapy (GAHT), reveals that transgender and nonbinary youth participants enjoyed significantly lower rates of depression, “suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts.” Youth below the age of 18, in particular, experienced nearly 40% lower odds of depression and suicide attempts.
Trevor Project Advocacy Campaign Manager, Cait Smith (they/them), told The Lighthouse that “decisions around medical care should rest with parents, patients, and doctors—not politicians.”
“Transgender young people deserve to lead happy, healthy lives. And like all young people, they have the best chance to thrive when they’re supported and can get the care they need,” said Smith. “This legislation would strip away access to medical care that is essential to the health and well-being of many young people across Mississippi.”
By demonizing treatment, Tate, Ivy, and other anti-LGBTQ bigots risk an uptick in suicide among their state’s most vulnerable population. The Trevor Project found that more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth seriously considered suicide in 2021, and nearly one in five took a dangerous first step toward death. Seventy-one percent of transgender and nonbinary youth also reported experiencing discrimination based on their gender identity, and that the discrimination hotly aggravated suicidal tendencies.
The Association of American Medical Colleges reports that Katherine Imborek, MD, claims she has seen gender-affirming care provided at UI Health Care’s LGBTQ Clinic in Iowa City change the lives of transgender youths and adults.
“It decreases depression, anxiety, and suicide attempts,” says Imborek, who is co-director of the Iowa clinic. She further describes the care as “a medical necessity,” comparable to “providing insulin to a person with diabetes.”
Reeves’ destructive behavior is hardly surprising. Mississippi rates low on the Movement Advancement Projects’ LGBTQ Policy Tally because the state has few laws banning LGBTQ discrimination. The state has no employment nondiscrimination laws. Anybody looking to sue over employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace must seek recourse through the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and federal courts. The state also offers no housing, credit, or public accommodation nondiscrimination laws. It even bans cities and counties from passing nondiscrimination laws on their own.
Additionally, the state provides no adoption nondiscrimination protections or foster care nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ parents. It has no anti-bullying laws or policies protecting LGBTQ students on its books and it bars transgender students from using school facilities consistent with their gender identity. Destructive conversion therapy for LGBTQ youth is still legal in Mississippi.
House Bill 1125 passed the state’s heavily gerrymandered Senate earlier this week and is on the way to Reeves’ desk.