Maine: Pro-trans bill sparks outlandish kidnapping fears among right-wingers

People walk down the street during a Pride march with signs reading "trans joy is beautiful" and "protect trans youth"

A bill that safeguards trans minors’ access to gender-affirming healthcare in the state of Maine has stoked outlandish kidnapping fears among right-wing figures.

The bill, LD 1735, or ‘An Act to Safeguard Gender-Affirming Health Care’, was introduced by Democratic Rep. Laurie Osher, and aims to protect transgender minors from the anti-trans laws in other states.

It ensures that transgender people under the age of 18, and their parents, who enter the state of Maine to access gender-affirming care will not be affected by the transphobic laws other states have enacted that threaten arrests or subpoenas.

Two people hold placards in support of trans healthcare during a protest in Amsterdam on 6 February 2022
Far-right organisations and figures have stoked fears that a pro-trans bill will amount to kidnapping. (Romy Arroyo Fernandez/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

It also allows the state to take temporary emergency custody of abused trans children if they are within state borders.

The bill, which is scheduled to be discussed before a committee in Augusta on Thursday (25 January), has sparked major controversy among right-wing and anti-trans, and has resulted in an extreme spread of misinformation.

Far-right figure Chaya Raichik, who runs the conservative social media account Libs of TikTok, stoked fears among her followers when she misinterpreted the proposed bill and tweeted from her Libs of TikTok page: “BREAKING: New proposed bill in Maine says the state can take custody of a kid if the parents oppose s*x change surgery and the chemical castration of their kids.”

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Libs of TikTok, which was once featured on the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) list of extremists, has been heavily criticised by+ advocate groups like GLAAD for “maliciously targetting LGBTQ+ organisations, people and allies by posting lies, misinformation, and blatant hate.”

The guidelines in the works are hoping to address health challenges that negatively impact the rights of trans and gender-diverse people in accessing fair, quality health services. (Panuwat Dangsungnoen/Getty)
Maine’s proposed trans healthcare bill would only give the state custody of a minor if they were at risk of abuse or neglect if they return to their family. (Panuwat Dangsungnoen/Getty)

Despite the social media page’s reputation, the misinformation about Maine’s LD 1735 bill quickly spread, sparking outlandish fears of kidnapping.

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Re-sharing the tweet, right-wing journalist Megyn Kelly tweeted: “This is SICK! Bombard them with emails. This cannot pass.”

Similarly, Donald Trump Jr. reposted the Libs of TikTok warning and told his followers: “They want full control of your kids. They want parents to have no say so they can do whatever they want. These people are evil and insane. Stop this madness.”

Republican Rep. David Haggan has also contributed to fears surrounding the bill, telling members of the Judiciary Committee last week: “This bill authorizes the kidnapping and massacring of children from other states without parental consent.”

Contrary to what some of anti-trans figures are claiming, the bill does not simply take custody of trans minors whose parents are opposed to them undergoing gender-affirming care.

Rather, it would give a judge temporary jurisdiction over a trans minor present in the state who is at risk of abuse or neglect if returned to their family. 

As independent journalist Erin Reed points out in her thorough analysis of the bill, the state would do the exact same thing for a cisgender child if there was evidence that the child was at risk of abuse or neglect by their family.

Offering this to trans children in the state is particularly important as red states with stronger anti-trans legislation attempt to track minors who might have crossed state lines either temporarily or permanently to undergo potentially lifesaving gender-affirming care.

Maine’s House judiciary committee will make its final decision on the bill on Thursday (25 January).

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