Push to bar puberty-blocking drugs, medical gender-transitioning of children widens to 3 states

A man holds up a sign supporting North Carolina's anti-transgender bathroom law in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S., August 18, 2016. |

Following the outcry over 7-year-old James Younger in Texas, whose mother is seeking to medically transition him into a girl named Luna, the push to ban medical gender-transitioning for minors is expanding to other states.

Republicans in three states have now either announced their intentions to or are already drafting bills that would restrict or assign criminal penalties to the practice of medically altering the biological sex of a child in pursuit of becoming the opposite sex, known as "transitioning."

In Georgia, state representative Ginny Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) is introducing legislation making it a felony act for medical professional to assist a minor child with a gender transition.

“We’re talking about children that can’t get a tattoo or smoke a cigar or a cigarette in the state of Georgia but can be castrated and get sterilized,” Ehrhart said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“There may be some implication for the responsibility of the parent to subject the child to this sort of dangerous medical intervention,” she said.

The Republican legislator, who last year defeated an incumbent Democrat with a transgender-identifying child, indicated she was compelled to propose the bill in light of the situation with Younger, who is at the center of a center of a custody battle and gained international attention last month.

Republican Texas Rep. Matt Krause said amid the swirl of news about Younger that he would introduce legislation prohibiting puberty-blocking drugs for children under the age of 18 during the next session, which will occur in 2021, unless a special session is called before then.

In Kentucky, state representative Savannah Maddox, also a Republican, announced she was drafting a similar bill for her state.

"I am sure that many of you have read about the shocking case of this 7 yr old boy in Texas whose parents are in the midst of an ugly courtroom battle as a result of his mother's desire to transition his gender from male to female, but truth be told this has been in my mind and on my heart for quite a while," Maddox wrote in an Oct 25 post on her Facebook page.

“I am a strong advocate for parents' rights — but it is not the right of a parent to permanently alter a child's gender or identity, even when based upon certain behaviors or the perceptions of a child's mind which has not yet had time to fully develop.”

It is a widely held consensus that the pre-frontal cortex, the decision-making part of the brain, does is not fully form until people are into their 20s.

In the United States, criticism of the medicalization of gender has largely come from the political right and religious and conservative-leaning media outlets. Left-leaning critics of transitioning minors and of transgender ideology more generally include radical feminists and lesbians, who also stress that transgenderism erases women's sex-based rights and have said they struggle to be heard in major media.

Yet criticism of the medical treatments is slowly percolating into the mainstream press as what are known as detransitioners — individuals who once identified as transgender but no longer do — share their journeys.

Writing in New York magazine Saturday, Andrew Sullivan argued for greater caution and putting additional safeguards in place for teenagers desiring to transition, "as opposed to swift affirmation and handing out testosterone like candy," he quipped.

"Social transition is one thing. Off-label puberty blockers and irreversible hormones and surgeries are quite another. And this is zero-sum," Sullivan said, noting that he had recently interviewed several women in their early 20s, none of them religious extremists or bigoted, who recently desisted back to their biological sex.

"Their transition was based entirely on how they felt at the moment, which they now regard as a false signal about their long-term identity," he explained.

"Right now, we are effectively experimenting on minors who cannot give meaningful consent. And that alone should give us pause."

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