Nebraska lawmakers hear comments on gender-affirming healthcare for youth

A public hearing was held today in Lincoln over LB574, nicknamed "Let Them Grow," aimed at banning gender-affirming care for minors in the state.
Published: Feb. 8, 2023 at 6:43 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - Nebraska state senators heard public comment on gender-affirming healthcare for youth on Wednesday afternoon as many opposing a bill to ban it made their voices heard during a nearly eight-hour hearing in the halls of the Capitol.

Supporters of rights for transgender people spoke out at the Nebraska state Capitol, voicing their opposition LB574, which would make it illegal for medications or medical procedures that alter gender to be given to anyone younger than age 19.

State Sen. Kathleen Kauth, who introduced the bill, argues that children are too young to understand the lasting implications and health risks of these decisions.

One person who spoke in support of the bill said they regret the care they received as a teen, and testified their parents were coerced into the surgery.

“They were told, ‘Would you rather have a dead daughter, or a living son?’ These are not the words of a medical professional, but the words of an activist. I was just a teenager who needed actual help, not surgery.”

Those who oppose the bill say it is government overreach — that all medical decisions should be up to patients, parents, and their doctors.

They say the bill is dehumanizing to trans youth and goes against what the American Medical Association recommends, and the American Academy of Pediatrics supports.

“Discriminatory bills like this are a threat to people, and they’re a threat to democracy, silencing voices and erasing identities along the way.”

If the bill is passed, a doctor would face punishment from the state licensing board, and the parents or patient could sue the doctor in civil court.

Ahead of Wednesday’s hearing, OutNebraska and ACLU of Nebraska held a news conference on the bill.

”Decisions about medical care for transgender youth should be made by families collaborating with physicians and mental health professionals, based on existing and well-established medical practices grounded in science,” Abbi Swatsworth, executive director of OutNebraska, said in a news release from the organization. “Politicians have no place dictating medical care for Nebraska families.”

Digital Director Gina Dvorak contributed to this report.