Kansas governor vetoes bill banning trans youth healthcare: ‘Not a Kansas value’

Kansas governor Laura Kelly addresses a crowd as she stands at a podium

The governor of Kansas has vetoed a bill which aims to prohibit healthcare providers from providing trans youth with gender-affirming care.

After a concerning number of US states launched their 2024 legislative sessions by introducing bills targeting transgender healtcare, it’s a relief for advocates everywhere to see politicians like governor Laura Kelly taking a stand against anti-trans bills.

On Friday (12 April), Kelly blocked the Substitute Bill for Senate Bill 233 which would prohibit medical personnel from performing gender-affirmation surgery and treatment on trans children. The bill would also allow a civil cause of action against medical providers offering such treatment, with professional disciplinary action taken against doctors. 

The bill would further restrict the use of state funds to promote gender-affirming treatment, and prohibit professional liability insurance firms from covering damages for healthcare professionals offering it. 

In her veto message, Democrat Kelly said that the bill “tramples parental rights”. She explained: “This divisive legislation targets a small group of Kansans by placing government mandates on them and dictating to parents how to best raise and care for their children. I do not believe that is a conservative value, and it’s certainly not a Kansas value.”

However, her positive move for the LGBTQ+ community did not come without backlash. Kansas House Speaker Daniel Hawkins criticised Kelly for vetoing SB 233. 

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“As we watch other states, nations, and organizations reverse course on these experimental procedures on children, Laura Kelly will most surely find herself on the wrong side of history with her reckless veto of this common sense protection for Kansas minors. House Republicans stand ready to override her veto to protect vulnerable Kansas kids,” he wrote via social media.

Despite Kelly’s move, Kansas has passed the “broadest” anti-trans bathroom bill in the US, which could even see some cis women banned from female toilets. 

Lawmakers in the state overturned a previous veto by governor Kelly, who has continually spoken out against anti-trans legislation

SB 180, entitled the Women’s Bill of Rights, bans trans and intersex women from toilets, changing rooms and prison facilities that align with their gender, as well as barring trans women from accessing domestic abuse shelters and rape crisis centres.   

Definitions outlined in the bill also state a female is a person who produces “ova” – in other words, eggs – meaning cis women who are infertile and are unable to produce eggs, or postmenopausal women could theoretically be barred from spaces under the legislation’s legal terms. 

The bill was passed by 84 votes to 40 in the House and subsequently 28-12 in the Senate.