White House hopeful Mike Pence backs country-wide ban on life-saving healthcare for trans kids

Former vice president Mike Pence stands at a podium reading "Mike Pence 2024" as he launches his presidential bid

Former vice president Mike Pence has launched a 2024 presidential bid, beginning with an attack on trans athletes and gender-affirming care.

Pence, who served as vice president under Donald Trump from 2016 to 2020, officially announced his candidacy on Wednesday (7 June), meaning he will now be battling for the presidency against his former boss, as well as Florida governor Ron DeSantis

The former VP, who has consistently shown opposition to the LGBTQ+ community during his political career, said he “strongly supports” legislation banning gender-affirming care for minors, stating that if he wins the presidency he will end “politically correct nonsense”. 

During CNN’s town hall for Republican candidates, Pence said: “I strongly support state legislation, including, as we did in Indiana, that bans all gender transition, chemical or surgical procedures, under the age of 18.”

Surgery is not performed on minors anywhere in the US.

He added that he believes adults should be allowed to transition, however “we’re going to protect kids from the radical gender ideology”, adding “there’s a reason why you don’t let kids get a tattoo before they’re 18”. 

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Mike Pence added in an interview with the Des Moines Register that he would support federal legislation to ban gender-affirming care for minors across the US.

“If there was a move in the Congress to protect children from this radical gender ideology and to ban chemical or surgical transition treatment for kids under the age of 18, you bet I would support it,” he said. 

“The fact that you have a radical gender ideology that’s been afoot even here in Iowa in public schools, I think, has been very harmful to our kids.”

Pence’s video launching his presidential bid also featured anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment, with a voiceover stating “timeless American values are under assault as never before” over a clip of trans swimmer Lia Thomas.

Pence’s rival Ron DeSantis was also criticised for a presidential bid launch seeming to target the LGBTQ+ community, with the Florida governor claiming that the “woke mind virus” must be replaced with “reality, facts and enduring principles”.

Former vice president Mike Pence stands with former president Donald Trump (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Pence’s opposition to gender-affirming care for young people comes as the Human Rights Campaign has recorded more than 530 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in statehouses across the US in 2023.

More than 125 bills aiming to limit gender-affirming care for trans youth have been introduced, with 16 already becoming law.

States including Tennessee, Mississippi, Utah, Indiana and Florida are among those who have already banned or restricted access to gender-affirming healthcare, though some states are having these laws challenged.

The bans have been put in place despite multiple studies finding that gender-affirming care improves the mental health of trans teens, with the majority of teens diagnosed with gender dysphoria sticking to gender-affirming treatments as they get older.