Cruel bill banning trans healthcare killed off in Louisiana – by just one vote

A person holds a giant trans flag that reads 'trans rights now'

LGBTQ+ activists in Louisiana are celebrating following a vote to kill a proposed gender-affirming care ban for trans youth – thanks to a Republican senator.

State senators voted to strike down Louisiana House Bill 648 on Wednesday (24 May) after a Republican lawmaker crossed the floor to vote with every elected Democrat.

Pharmacist and Republican senator Fred Mills argued prior to the vote that he trusts physicians to make the right decisions for their patients and, as such, saw no need for the bill.

“I always, in my heart of hearts, have believed that a decision should be made by a patient and a physician,” he said.

If passed, the bill would have effectively banned gender-affirming care for under-18s in Louisiana – including the prescription of physically reversible puberty blockers – by imposing sanctions on medical organisations that prescribe them.

It also bans gender-affirming surgeries, despite no medical organisation anywhere in the US performing them on under-18s.

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Republican senator Fred Mills, sitting at his desk and smiling while wearing a white button shirt and grey tie.
Louisiana senator Fred Mills broke away from Republicans after voting against the anti-trans bill. (YouTube)

Mills’ decision to vote against the anti-LGBTQ+ bill has been met with vehement backlash from Republicans and right-wing conservatives such as self-described theocratic fascist Matt Walsh, who said Mills would “regret” the decision.

But, as Mills explained in an interview following the vote, he doesn’t care what Matt Walsh and other critics think.

“Why should I [vote for the bill]?” he said. “They don’t live in District 22. They don’t have a 337 area code. I didn’t run for office to serve those people.”

He explained that a study by the Louisiana Health Department on gender-affirming health care helped influence his decision on the vote.

It found that no gender-affirming procedures were performed on minors under Medicaid between 2017 to 2021, and that prescriptions of puberty blockers were also exceedingly rare.

“My decision was really, really based on the numbers,” Mills continued. “All the testimony I heard by the proponents that children are getting mutilated, I didn’t see it in the statistics.”

Senior officials at the Human Rights Campaign commended Mills’ decision and the subsequent killing of the bill, saying that Louisiana lawmakers “did the right thing today”.

State legislative director Cathryn Oakley said: “They heard the voices of transgender kids, their families, and medical experts who bravely shared their stories and chose to treat transgender children with dignity and respect.

“Gender-affirming care is recommended by the entire mainstream American medical establishment for transgender youth. Age-appropriate, medically necessary, gender-affirming healthcare saves lives.”

The Senate is yet to vote on two more anti-LGBTQ+ bills – HB466, a ‘Don’t Say Gay’ copycat, and HB81, which would force schools to misgender trans children.

Democratic governor of Louisiana John Bel Edwards has condemned the bills, saying that they would increase “suicidal ideation” among trans children.

“These kinds of bills do not tend to help with that,” he said in a press conference on 11 May.

“In fact, they aggravate the situation and then cause it to be worse.”

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