Louisiana Governor Vetoes Ban on Transition Care for Transgender Minors


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The medical measure would forbid hormone treatments, puberty blockers and gender-transition surgery for people under 18.

The other two bills would restrict what teachers can discuss in class on the subject of gender, and limit the ability of transgender and nonbinary students to have school personnel refer to them by pronouns that do not match the sex listed on their birth certificates.

The transition-care ban took a bumpy road to the governor’s desk. One attempt to pass the bill failed in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee because a Republican lawmaker and pharmacist, Fred Mills, voted against it. Proponents tried again in a different committee, where the bill advanced.

Proponents of the ban on transition care say it is meant to protect children from treatments that are risky and unproven, and have long-term consequences for the patients. More than 20 Republican-led states have pushed through legislation restricting rights for transgender youth and adults, with nearly of all of those states enacting comparable bans on transition care.

Several federal judges have either temporarily or permanently blocked enforcement of some of those laws, citing, in part, concerns about the constitutionality of targeting that specific type of medical care.

Mr. Edwards, who had vowed to block his state’s bills, argued that they would harm a small population of young people who are uniquely vulnerable. In a pair of notices vetoing the school-related measures, he urged lawmakers to show compassion toward transgender youth and warned against putting in place what he described as discriminatory and flawed policy.

But Mr. Edwards, the only Democratic governor in the Deep South, saved the most disdain for the ban against transition care. In an unusually lengthy six-page letter to senior lawmakers, he wrote that the measure was “so blatantly defective on so many levels that brevity is impossible.”

“I believe that time will show that this veto was not just an exercise in compassion and respect for transgender children and their parents, but it was also the only legally responsible action to take because it is what is constitutionally required of me,” he concluded.

All three bills passed the Republican-dominated Legislature by margins wide enough to override the governor’s veto. But the legislative session ended recently, so that can’t happen right away.

Under Louisiana law, the lawmakers could reconvene after about 40 days for a special session to consider overriding vetoes.

Lawmakers did not hold an override session last year, even though Mr. Edwards had vetoed more than two dozen bills, and it remains unclear whether they will this year. But several Republicans, including those eager for their party to reclaim the governorship next year, have signaled that there may be enough support to override this recent slate of vetoes.

Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.


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