Nebraska passes gender-affirming care ban for trans youth despite heroic filibuster efforts

A picture of Megan Hunt speaking at her podium in the Nebraska state capitol.

Nebraska lawmakers have passed a gender-affirming care ban despite attempts to blockade the bill for over three months.

A final vote of 33-15 on Friday (19 May) saw Legislative Bill 574 pass through to governor Jim Pillen after months of filibustering by two Democratic representatives, including House member Megan Hunt.

Not only does the bill effectively ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth, including physically reversible puberty blockers, but it was also amended earlier in May to include a 10-week abortion ban.

The amendment was added following the failure of a similar anti-abortion bill – which would have banned termination procedures after six weeks – by just a single vote after Republican Merv Riepe abstained from voting.

The state’s capitol was filled with protestors calling for lawmakers to “kill this bill” while chanting “keep kids alive”.

Following the vote, House representative Hunt, who is under investigation after lawmakers accused her of a conflict of interest for having a trans son, said: “You 33 members do not represent the will of Nebraskans.

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“You are more radical than Nebraskans,” she continued. “You should know that there’s going to be a lawsuit if you pass this bill, with numerous plaintiffs, and the taxpayers are going to pay for that.

“I lost so much this session in terms of relationships with all of you. But I gained a hundredfold in relationships with the people I know who support me and my family – the people who I found out have the back of the LGBTQ+ community and women in Nebraska.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) described the bill’s passing as “unacceptable” and called for state activists to “fight back” by notifying representatives about their opposition to LB574.

Additionally, the ACLU referenced an open letter signed by over 200 businesses operating in Nebraska that condemned the bill and those like it as “discouraging and disappointing”.

It argued that the laws create a hostile environment in the state, causing LGBTQ+ people and allies to move away from Nebraska, which it said causes “major competitive risks”.

“The next generation of workers aren’t just wanting inclusive environments, they are demanding it,” the letter read.

The Human Rights Campaign’s state legislative director, Cathryn Oakley, joined the chorus of condemnation against the bill, saying that lawmakers had “the audacity” to title the bill the ‘Let Them Grow Act’.

“In reality, this legislation will make it difficult or impossible for a transgender or non-binary child to grow up as their authentic self,” Oakley said. “Age-appropriate, medically necessary gender-affirming care is life-saving healthcare. Period.

“It’s supported by every mainstream American medical and mental health organisation – representing millions of providers in the United States. Yet, politicians on a crusade to prove their extremism to the far fringes of their base clearly see it as a cheap political ploy.”

During a concert on Satuday (19 May), the singer Lizzo shared her dismay at the bill’s passing, saying to the thousands of fans cheering for her: “Don’t let anyone tell you who you are. These laws aren’t real. You are real.”

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