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Louisiana State Senator Files Anti-Transgender Legislation
SB104 would make it more difficult for minors to seek mental health and medical services based on their gender identity
Photo by Jenn Bentley
Louisiana State Senator Mike Fesi (R-Houma) filed legislation on Tuesday that would make it more difficult for transgender and gender nonconforming youth to seek mental health and medical services based on their gender identity.
SB 104 would require anyone under 18 to obtain written permission from at least one parent or guardian in order to get gender-affirming treatment, which refers to “counseling or psychotherapy treatment founded on the position that, regardless of a person possessing physical attributes of a certain gender at birth, no gender identity, expression or experience by that person is any more valid than any other.” It also includes surgical procedures and hormone therapy. Any doctor, therapist, counselor, or other medical professional providing gender-confirming care to a minor without getting written permission from the parent or guardian first could be subject to both civil and regulatory sanctions.
However, even if one parent approves, the other parent could still block the treatment, even if they are noncustodial or not an active part of the child’s life. Any parent would also be able to ask the court to prohibit gender identity therapy and medical care as long as their parental rights hadn’t been terminated - a situation that happens only rarely and in extreme circumstances.
The bill could have wide-ranging consequences, advocates say.
“Senator Fesi’s bill is a dangerous and irresponsible effort to politicize the survival of some of the most marginalized young people in Louisiana,” said Dylan Waguespack, President of the Board of Directors at Louisiana Trans Advocates. “The research is clear: affirming care reduces suicide ideation and attempts in trans youth. It’s completely unconscionable that any legislator—especially a legislator with no background in medical care or mental health—would attempt to place additional barriers between young people and the care they need.”
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than half of transgender male teens and nearly 30 percent of transgender female teens attempt suicide. Among nonbinary teenagers, nearly 42 percent attempt suicide at some point.
Waguespack recommends that Sen. Fesi meets with transgender youth to get a better understanding of what they go through.
“Senator Fesi should withdraw the bill and meet with some of the young people he’s targeting with this legislation and try to better understand their experiences. I think he'll find that his efforts are misguided and harmful.”
March 31 is the International Transgender Day of Visibility. ReportNOLA would like to take this moment to express solidarity with and acceptance of all transgender people.