Louisiana governor vows to veto ‘unnecessary’ bills discriminating against trans kids

Governor John Bel Edwards Louisiana

Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards has promised to veto any “unnecessary” and “discriminatory” legislation targeting “fragile” trans youth that winds up on his desk.

The Democrat said in a press conference on Monday (19 April) he would oppose bills seeking to ban trans youth in sports, as well as a proposal that would make it illegal for trans minors to access vital gender-affirming medical treatment. Edwards called both measures “unnecessary and discriminatory”, adding that he’s “hopeful” the state’s legislature “will not seek to advance those bills”.

“I am really concerned about emotionally fragile people and the idea that the weight of the state would be put behind something that to me is unnecessary and discriminatory and very hurtful for those individuals when there’s not a compelling reason to do it,” Edwards said.

He also said the proposals would have an “adverse impact to the state” should they be brought into law.

AP reported that New Orleans, Louisiana is scheduled to host the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) Final Four basketball tournament in 2022. The NCAA has issued a statement declaring its support for trans student-athletes and said it will choose locations for its tournaments where “hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination”.

Two of the four Louisiana lawmakers sponsoring the bans on trans athletes in school sports have said they intend to move the bills forward despite this.

Republican senator Beth Mizel told the LA Illuminator that the state should “not let the NCAA or any other special interest group tell us what to do”. She claimed any group that said they would boycott the state should the anti-trans bills pass into law was practising a kind of “extortion”.

Louisiana lawmakers introduced four anti-trans measures thus far in 2021. Two bills – Senate Bill 104 and House Bill 575 – would ban trans minors under the age of 18 from receiving healthcare and mental health services related to their gender identity.

SB 104 would require trans youth to get permission from their parents before pursuing any gender-affirming care, including counselling.

HB 575 would prohibit trans minors from getting any prescriptions for drug therapy or even gender-affirming surgery even if they have the permission of their parents. The bill would also force school staff to out trans students to their parents. If it were to pass into law, it would criminalise anyone that provides gender-affirming care to trans minors with a two-year prison sentence or a $10,000 fine.