On Thursday, March 16, lawmakers in the US state of Kentucky passed a new anti-trans bill banning all gender-affirming care for trans youth, including hormone therapy.
Despite resistance from Democrats and some Republicans, Senate Bill 150 passed in the House by a margin of 75 to 22, and in the Senate with a vote of 30 to 7. It will now move to the desk of Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear.
While Beshear has actively opposed the bill and will likely try to veto it, the veto can be overruled since Republicans hold a majority in both the Kentucky House and Senate.
If the bill becomes a law, in addition to banning the provision of gender-affirming care to minors, it will also allow teachers to intentionally misgender their trans and non-binary students, and like Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law, it will ban any mention of sexual orientation and gender identity in classroom settings.
Before the vote last week, many passionate LGBTQ+ activists and allies tried to persuade lawmakers to oppose it.
Kentucky State Representative Pamela Stevenson spoke as a veteran who has long fought for people’s personal freedoms. She referenced Republican lawmakers’ hypocrisy for claiming they are helping children and identified the many ways they could be helping them instead of causing harm.
— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) March 6, 2023
Karen Berg, a Kentucky Senator, physician and professor, delivered an emotional address to the representatives. She referenced the attempts doctors have made to explain the science behind hormone replacement therapy to elected Republican representatives and challenged them to think about why they were elected. She said that if they were trying to protect the most vulnerable constituents, they were failing miserably.
On Twitter, in response to those who falsely believe Kentucky youth are undergoing gender-affirming surgeries, she said, “Your elected officials are trying to scare you into believing that is happening. It is not the standard of care; we follow the standard of care and they know that.”
These rights, every other family enjoys.
Hate has no shame in this state.
— Karen Berg (@karenforky) March 17, 2023
Berg has long campaigned for transgender rights and tragically lost her trans son to suicide at the age of 24. He was an activist who campaigned against Kentucky’s bathroom bill when he was only 16 years old.
Today, we're remembering our colleague and friend, Henry Berg-Brousseau, on what would have been his 25th birthday.
We're thinking about Henry's warm presence, generous spirit and his tireless advocacy for trans rights. 💙💛 pic.twitter.com/OuOOoZiM1l
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) March 9, 2023
Three Republican representatives voted against the bill, including Kim Banta, Stephanie Dietz, and Killian Timoney.
As the bill was being debated, Timoney used a religious argument to appeal to his conservative colleagues, saying, “I’m not going to comment on how my values might be different, but I just know that when I stand before God on my judgment day, he’s gonna say, ‘who did you love?’ And I’m gonna say ‘everybody.'”
Kim Banta said, “I felt like we were singling out a very fragile group who already struggle for acceptance and belonging, and I just honestly, I said, ‘this is mean, and I can’t do this'”.
The Kentucky American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called SB 150 “the worst anti-trans bill in the nation” and promised to fight the legislation in court.
BREAKING: The Senate passes #SB150, a Don’t Say Gay bill that ends all gender-affirming care for minors in Kentucky.
SB 150 is the worst anti-trans bill in the nation.
Trans & LGBTQ Kentuckians: your government failed you today, but we WILL keep fighting. You belong here. pic.twitter.com/LyDYxIXaSH
— ACLU of Kentucky (@ACLUofKY) March 16, 2023
ACLU Interim Executive Director, Amber Dukes, said, “This dangerous bill and others like it across the country are nothing more than a desperate attempt to score political points by targeting people who simply want to live their lives”.
In 2023, the US has already introduced over 300 anti-trans and anti-drag bills across 43 states.
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