Two states have gone around their legislatures to ban transgender treatments for kids through executive action, but Wyoming shows no signs of doing the same.
In the state’s recent legislative session, Wyoming lawmakers rejected Chloe’s Law, a bill that would have forbidden doctors from performing or prescribing transgender-related treatments for kids.
For Texas and Florida, legislative rejection and inaction weren’t enough to keep such treatments legal: executive-branch officials in both states banned the practice on their own.
Encouraged by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Florida Board of Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Medicine both passed rules last month banning puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgical procedures for transgender minors.
Texas also took a unique route toward its ban. Attorney General Ken Paxton on Feb. 18, 2022, dispatched a legal opinion saying the state’s existing child-abuse statutes criminalize transgender treatments for kids.
“There is no doubt that these procedures are ‘abuse’ under Texas law and thus must be halted,” Paxton said in a statement at the time.
The legislatures of Utah, South Dakota, Arizona, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama have banned transgender-related treatments for kids, though Arizona’s ban applies only to surgeries.
Did Not Engage
Wyoming isn’t looking to use its executive branch to ban transgender treatments for kids like Texas and Florida have done.
Gov. Mark Gordon’s spokesman Michael Pearlman told Cowboy State Daily in a text that because Chloe’s Law never made it to Gordon’s desk, “he did not engage with the AG on this question.”
Wyoming governors appoint their attorneys general, whereas Texas voters elect theirs.
Wyoming AG Bridget Hill did not immediately respond to a Cowboy State Daily email requesting comment.
Zero Discipline Cases So Far
The Wyoming Board of Medicine hasn’t received any complaints or cases regarding transgender treatments for kids, according to the board’s executive director, Kevin Bohnenblust.
“The board has not taken that up at all. It’s not been asked to,” said Bohnenblust. “And it’s been the general philosophy of the board, as long as I’ve been here, that the board doesn’t either prohibit particular procedures or endorse them.”
Rather, the board looks to specific state statutes and to the existing standard of care when reviewing disciplinary cases, said Bohnenblust.
Anyone can ask the board to review a topic, including members of the public, he said. If the issue does arise, Bohnenblust said the board would analyze it within the scope of Wyoming’s medical practice laws.
The state’s medical practice laws do not specifically address transgender treatments. The next lawmaking session begins in 2024.
How Chloe’s Law Died
Chloe’s Law, Senate File 144, was one of the most-discussed bills of the 2023 legislative session before it died in the House of Representatives on Feb. 27.
House lawmakers voted to end debate on new bills early before hearing Chloe’s Law.
The vote came after social-conservative Republicans blamed the House Appropriations Committee for sending Chloe’s Law to the bottom of the House priority list with a vote of disapproval, after recommending multiple structural and policy changes so that the bill would only have banned surgeries, not cross-sex hormones or puberty blockers.
‘Groomed And Preyed Upon’
Luka Hein, a 21-year-old woman who tried as a teenager to transition to being a boy, testified in favor of the bill while it was still in the Senate.
“I was a young teenager with a history of mental health issues who had been groomed and preyed upon, and exploited online,” Hein told the Senate Labor, Health and Socials Services Committee on Feb. 3.
She said the medical system ignored her many underlying issues and distress, and “why I felt the need to escape my body at such a young age.”
The Wyoming Medical Society and Wyoming Equality, which is an LGBTQ advocacy group in the state, both argued against Chloe’s Law. The medical group said the law would bully doctors, while Wyoming Equality said the law would erode family autonomy, bully doctors and overlook the crucial needs of transgender youth.
Medical Organizations Weigh In
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 2018 recommended puberty blockers as a way to “reduce distress” from developing sex traits incongruous with one’s gender identity, and said the drugs generally lead to “improved psychological functioning” among transgender adolescents and young adults.
The organization warned, however, that suppressing puberty is not without risks and can lead to lower self-esteem and increased risk-taking.
Long-term risks such as bone metabolism and fertility issues are not fully known, the association wrote in a 2018 study that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) cited in a 2022 statement on transgender treatment and young people.
HHS also indicates cross-sex hormones as a treatment option beginning in early adolescence as part of medical practices that “have been demonstrated to yield lower rates of adverse mental health outcomes, build self-esteem and improve overall quality of life for transgender and gender diverse youth.”
Cross-sex hormones are “partially reversible,” the AAP said in its own study. Teens’ skin texture and muscle mass may be able to revert to their biological sex traits, but Adam’s apple protrusion, voice changes, male-pattern baldness and breast development are irreversible.
The effect of cross-sex hormones on fertility is not fully known, the study adds.
The AAP study notes that surgeries such as double mastectomies, vaginoplasty and phalloplasty are irreversible.