Associated Press report: Numerous bills to limit trans-healthcare introduced by few far-right groups

Aaron and Lacy Genen’s roots run deep in Arkansas. They have spent their entire lives there, attending major state colleges and supporting their families. So they are heartbroken at the prospect of having to move to one of the dwindling number of states where gender-affirming medical care for their transgender teenage daughter, Sabrina, is not threatened.

“We were like, ‘Okay, if we can raise Sabrina to 18… we can forget all this shit,'” said Aaron Jennen. Enact anti-trans laws here in Arkansas and across the country. “

At least 17 states have enacted laws restricting or banning gender-affirming care for transgender minors, although judges have temporarily blocked enforcement in some states, such as Arkansas. ing. An Associated Press analysis found that these bills often came out of the pen of a few conservative interest groups rather than grassroots or voter demand.

Many of the proposals submitted or passed are identical or very similar to some model bills, the Associated Press found. These off-the-shelf bills have been in use in state legislatures for decades, and the carpet rugs are often criticized by out-of-state interest groups. In the case of restrictions on gender-affirming care for young people, critics say they allow a few far-right groups to spread false narratives based on distorted science.

read more: What kind of treatment do transgender youth receive?

“These are out-of-state solutions that try to solve problems that don’t exist in-state,” Aaron Jennen said. “For whatever reason, in states like Arkansas they have the ears of Congress, and lawmakers usually just respect and listen to those individuals.”

The Associated Press obtained the text of more than 130 bills from 40 state legislatures from public-policy software firm Plural to be put up for sale by conservative group Do No Harm, which also criticizes efforts to diversify health care staffing. Similarities with model bills were analyzed. And the Family Research Council has been involved in abortion regulation for many years.

One of the clearest examples is the state of Montana, where nearly every wording in at least one bill appears in the Do No Harm model. An email published in December showed that Republican sponsor Senator John Fuller tweaked the model before introducing it a few weeks later. Democrats criticized his efforts.

Democratic Senator Janet Ellis said during a debate in February, “This isn’t a Montana problem. It’s a well-funded national cause.”

Republicans protested.

“Somebody said this is not the solution for Montana, and I can say that I won the election on this issue,” said the Republican who ran unvoted in the contested primary. said Senator Barry Asher.

A bill in Montana was passed and signed into law in March with much of Do No Harm’s model language intact.

read more: Transgender Youth and Their Families File Lawsuit Over Montana’s Gender-Affirmative Care Ban

There are many similarities between the “Do No Harm” model and the 2021 Arkansas bill that the Family Research Council approved as a model, among them the risks of gender-affirming care outweighing its benefits. The claim (rebutted by a major medical institution) is also included.

The Republican Party’s recent focus on bills restricting aspects of the transgender life is largely due to the use of social “wedge issues” (once such as abortion and same-sex marriage) to motivate voters. It’s a strategy to try, political observers say. And it certainly seems to resonate. A year ago, a Pew Research Center survey found widespread support among Republicans, but not among Democrats, for restricting medical care for gender transitions.

“These organizations are not introducing this model bill to make their lawmakers’ jobs easier or to support the children in their constituencies. We are introducing this model bill to gain access and gain access,” Herron said. Greensmith is a senior research analyst overseeing anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric at liberal think tank Political Research Associates.

Dr. Jack Dresher, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University who edited the section on gender dysphoria in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic Manual, said such bills often distort the valid science supporting gender-affirming care for young people. Stated. Do No Harm cite the manual in the model invoice.

“These bills have absolutely no interest in patient care,” Drescher said. “These bills are designed to agitate.”

read more: Why Louisiana youth activists say they can’t shut up anymore

Marty P. Jordan, Assistant Professor of Political Science, said, “When policymakers select isolated studies or scientific studies that reach different conclusions than the rest of society, or do not have the expertise to do so. Any time you depend on , you have a problem.” at Michigan State University. “It’s a problem for individuals that this bill can affect. It’s a problem for the wider public, and it’s a problem for democracy as a whole.”

Kent Siler, a professor of political science at Middle Tennessee State University, said, “If it’s a good bill, no one should be ashamed of where they got it. That’s how the federal system works.” It’s the body,” he said.

Launched last year and initially focused on the role of race in medical education and employment, the Virginia-based nonprofit has registered lobbyists in at least four states. Officials have testified in state capitols across the country.

When asked about Do No Harm’s legislative work, founder and chairman Dr. Stanley Goldfarb responded by email: “Do No Harm works to protect children from extreme gender ideologies through original research, partnership building, and testimonies from lived parents and patients. Through the advocacy of rigorous, non-political research on discord.”

The Family Research Council, an advocacy group against abortion and LGBTQ+ rights, is promoting what it calls the Save Youth From Experimentation Act (SAFE Act). Among other things, it erroneously claims that ‘sex reassignment’ is an experiment.

read more: Missouri Legislature Bans Transgender Care for Minors, Limits Coverage for Adults

The Family Research Council leader declined to directly answer some questions about the model bill, such as where it was used and which legislators it worked with, but said, “What issues should be discussed in the scientific community? , must now be discussed.” Deal with it through the law. “

“The SAFE Act gives minors the opportunity to experience development before being subjected to lifelong chemical and surgical procedures,” Jennifer Bowens, the group’s director of family research, said in an email. “There is increasing evidence of psychological and physiological harm and suicide.”

In Arkansas, Sabrina Jennen, who turns 18 in July, continues to receive gender-affirming medical care as her family’s lawsuit goes to court.

“It’s very frustrating that these outside groups carry more weight than the people they represent,” said Aaron Jennen. “They didn’t listen to us before, but now they have to listen to us because we filed a lawsuit and went to court.”

Associated Press journalists from across the country, including Andrew DeMiro of Little Rock, Arkansas, contributed to the report. Amy Beth Hanson of Helena, Montana. Michael Goldberg and Emily Wagster Pettus of Jackson, Mississippi.

Harjai is a member of the Associated Press/United States Congressional Press Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that sends journalists to local newsrooms to report on cover-up issues.

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