Wyoming Bans Gender Transition Care for Minors

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With Gov. Mark Gordon’s signature, Wyoming joins 23 other states that have passed partial or total bans on gender-affirming care in recent years.

Wyoming’s bill, known as Senate File 99, was approved by lawmakers in both chambers earlier this month. Under the legislation, doctors, pharmacists and other health care providers who provide gender-affirming care could have their licenses suspended or revoked.

As in other states, proponents of the measure have argued that the treatments in minors are relatively new, and that the long-term effects are not well studied. The bill’s sponsor, Senator Anthony Bouchard, said that the law “prohibits the use of pharmaceuticals to alter normal adolescent development.’’

On Friday, Governor Gordon offered muted support for the measure.

“I signed SF99 because I support the protections this bill includes for children,” Mr. Gordon said in a statement. “However, it is my belief that the government is straying into the personal affairs of families.”

Transgender advocates in Wyoming said the conservative resistance to government intrusion is one reason similar measures have previously failed to pass. In prior sessions, some Republicans were sympathetic to the argument that the restrictions violated the rights of parents to make decisions for their children.

“The idea that the government is going to reach into your living room and tell you what kind of health care your kid can receive — I just can’t underline enough how backward that would be for Wyoming,’’ Sara Burlingame, a former Democratic state legislator, said in an interview.

But with the 2024 election approaching, Republican legislators were under pressure to pass the legislation this year, said Ms. Burlingame, who is now the executive director of Wyoming Equality, an L.G.B.T.Q. advocacy group.

She added that she was “dismayed” by the governor’s move.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, which has commissioned a systematic review of medical research on what is known as gender-affirming care for minors, opposed the bill. The group has taken the position that puberty blockers and hormone therapies can be essential to the mental health of transgender youth.

In Wyoming, about 200 people between 13 and 17 identify as transgender, according to an estimate by the Williams Institute at U.C.L.A. Law School from 2022. Nationwide, about 100,000 transgender minors live in the 24 states that have passed laws restricting gender-affirming care. As a result, many families have moved across state lines.

Since 2021, nearly every Republican-led state has enacted restrictions on transition care for young people as part of a party-wide strategy to mobilize cultural conservatives for the 2024 primaries.

In an attempt to protect minors facing these restrictions, legislators in Maine have proposed a bill, LD 277, that would offer safeguards to patients who travel to that state to receive transition care. In an unusual move earlier this month, attorneys general from 15 other states sent a letter to Maine lawmakers, including Gov. Janet Mills, saying they would take action against the state if the bill were to pass.

Federal and state judges have blocked enforcement of transition care bans in some states and allowed them to take effect in others. Transgender youth, their families and the Department of Justice have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on the case against Tennessee’s law. The court has yet to decide whether to hear the case, but a ruling would have wide-ranging consequences for all state bans, legal experts said.

Wyoming’s new law will take effect July 1. But a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit on Oklahoma’s transition care ban could have consequences for Wyoming’s law, as the state falls under the same jurisdiction.

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