Ban On Wyoming Transgender Treatments For Kids Voted Down; Chance For Resurrection Exists

A Wyoming state House committee voted to kill the much-debated Chloes Law on Wednesday, which would have banned transgender-related treatments for minors, but the House may still have an opportunity to hear it before the legislative session ends.

Clair McFarland

February 23, 20234 min read

Chloes Law Anthony Bouchard 3 2 22 23
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

A Wyoming legislative committee has rejected a proposed law banning transgender-related treatments for minors.  

The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday dramatically altered, then voted down Senate File 144 – aka “Chloe’s Law” – in a “do not pass” motion that only Reps. Lloyd Larsen, R-Lander, and Clark Stith, R-Rock Springs, opposed.   

Later on the House floor, Rep. John Bear, R-Gillette, tried to rally against the “do not pass” with a motion to send the bill to a different committee as though the Appropriations Committee had not voted on it. That effort failed 39-22.  

In spite of the motion against it, the House may still have an opportunity to hear SF 144 if it can get through all the other bills slated for their first vote by Feb. 27. 

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Nicholas, R-Cheyenne, left, and committee member Rep. Clark Stith, R-Rock Springs. (Matt Idler for Cowboy State Daily)


In the Appropriations Committee meeting, Chairman Rep. Bob Nicholas, R-Cheyenne, said he believes the bill is unconstitutional under Wyoming’s Constitution, which promises health care autonomy for Wyomingites.   

Stith countered, saying that the sweeping amendments the committee adopted before it voted the bill down make it constitutional; however, the bill without those changes would not have been constitutional.   

The Wyoming Constitution allows the Legislature to put “reasonable and necessary” restrictions on the health care rights of residents when necessary to protect the people’s general welfare.   

Female Genital Mutilation  

Sara Burlingame, director of LGBTQ advocacy group Wyoming Equality, opposed SF 144, saying it’s government overreach into delicate and complex components of personal and family life.    

“I’d just ask you to think very clearly about what it’s like to be a parent of a child who’s not fitting in, and to think what solution you wouldn’t give, what prayer you wouldn’t offer, to find a solution for that child,” said Burlingame.   

Burlingame also is a former state representative. In the state House in 2020, she voted in favor of a bill classifying female genital mutilation as aggravated assault.   

Stith asked Burlingame about her vote to make female genital mutilation a 10-year felony.   

“That’s a bill you supported and voted for when you were in the House of Representatives, so my question is, if (SF 144) were limited to just the surgery piece, would you still be against it?” asked Stith.   

Burlingame said Wyoming Equality would be willing to compromise on a bill forbidding surgeries but not chemical treatments, adding that the bill still may damaging to families and dehumanizing to doctors.    

“I don’t think we can pull this out of this bill without doing damage to the families of transgender children, who will see this as a normalized process and who will see this as a way they can expect to be treated,” said Burlingame. “To say nothing of health care providers who also, I think, have been pretty dehumanized in this specific argument.”   

Large Portions Removed  

Before the committee rejected the bill, it adopted an amendment Larsen wrote removing large portions of the bill text.   

Larsen removed the bill’s restrictions on pharmacists, insurance companies and health care providers, but kept the restriction on doctors. He also changed the types of treatment forbidden under the bill, limiting the forbidden chemical treatments only to those that would cause permanent infertility.   

Hamstrung Between State And Federal Law  

Committee members, state officials and members of the public had brought numerous concerns about the bill. A chief issue was its language barring insurance providers from covering transgender-related treatments.  

The federal Affordable Care Act orders insurance companies to cover such treatments when they’re found medically necessary.  

Wyoming’s insurance commissioner and its top insurance company both worried that the bill could hamstring insurers between state and federal law, possibly to the point of stripping thousands of people of their coverage.   

Stith raised that concern as well, asking bill sponsor Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, if its policy impact would be worth potentially driving Wyoming insurance companies off the federal insurance marketplace.   

Bouchard did not answer the question directly, but bill proponent Rep. Sarah Penn, R-Lander, told the committee she believes that outcome to be largely hypothetical.   

Voting to kill Chloe’s Law were Reps. Bill Henderson, R-Cheyenne; Trey Sherwood, D-Laramie; Tom Walters, R-Casper; Dave Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne; and Nicholas.   

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter