Freedom Caucus, House Dems Team Up To Kill Bill Outlawing Child Sex Changes

The Wyoming Freedom Caucus and five House Democrats formed an unexpected alliance Wednesday to torpedo a bill that would have prevented minors from receiving transgender surgeries in most scenarios in Wyoming.

Leo Wolfson

February 15, 20245 min read

State Rep. Barry Crago and Rep. John Bear
State Rep. Barry Crago and Rep. John Bear (Matt Idler for Cowboy State Daily)

In an unlikely political alliance, members of the Republican Wyoming Freedom Caucus and all five Democrats in the state House teamed up Wednesday to torpedo a bill that would have outlawed most child transgender surgeries in Wyoming.

The partnership formed when both groups voted against House Bill 63, legislation that would have prevented minors from receiving transgender surgeries in most scenarios.

The bill passed on a 33-28 vote but failed to reach the two-thirds threshold required for introduction during a budget session.

Different Reasons, Same Purpose

Although their votes were made for completely opposite reasons, the desired outcome for the two camps was all the same.

The far-right Freedom Caucus didn’t believe the bill went far enough to restrict surgeries, while the Democrats believe parents should be able to make those decisions for their children.

Rep. Barry Crago, R-Buffalo, a member of the Wyoming Caucus, a group that has set up to challenge the Freedom Caucus within the state Republican Party, slammed the Freedom Caucus in a Wednesday press release.

“This bill aims to protect children who are still developing physically and emotionally, but again the Freedom Caucus has decided to play politics versus doing the hard work of working the bills,” Crago said. "This repeated obstructionism by the Freedom Caucus to join with Democrats is not just political maneuvering — it's a betrayal of our children's well-being.”

Republicans who voted against HB 63 said they did so because they don’t believe the legislation goes far enough to prevent minors from having transgender surgeries. Rep. John Bear, R-Gillette, said the bill was a political maneuver designed to curry votes.

“Today, the House stopped a savvy effort to trick Wyoming voters into thinking we banned ‘gender affirming care,’” Bear said.

There is no evidence that any transgender surgeries have ever happened in Wyoming, although cross-sex hormone treatments and puberty blockers are available.

Rep. Karlee Provenza, D-Laramie, said there was no coordination or shared alliance between the groups on this issue.

“Democrats vote on issues, and if the issue is not working, you can’t vote for it,” she said. “I don’t get a text message that tells me how to vote so I can’t speak to that.”

Bear and other Freedom Caucus members are instead getting behind Chloe’s Law, legislation that serves a similar purpose as the Sex and Gender Changes for Children-Prohibited bill that was defeated. He said Chloe’s Law will definitively ban gender affirming care in Wyoming and urges people to rally behind it.

Differences Between The Bills

Where the two bills differ most significantly is on the punishment for doctors who perform gender changing procedures.

Under Chloe’s Law, a physician, surgeon or pharmacist could lose their license for performing a transgender surgery on a minor.

HB 63 had none of these stipulations, beyond restricting the medical procedure. It also has no restrictions related to the prescription of puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones, something that’s also included in Chloe’s Law.

Crago said the Freedom Caucus is using children as chess pieces for their political ambitions.

“It's disturbing that the interests of vulnerable minors are being sacrificed for the sake of partisan politics,” he said. “Our children deserve better than to be pawns in political gamesmanship."

Chloe’s Law must receive a vote of introduction in the Senate by Friday to advance. If it makes it to the House, lawmakers who wanted HB 63 to pass will have to decide whether they also want to support Chloe’s Law.

Since Chloe’s Law goes farther in the direction that Democrats don’t want to go on transgender rights, it’s extremely unlikely they will support this bill.

If it gets back to the House, all the bill will need is a majority vote and the governor’s support to pass into law, but the combination of Republicans aligned with the Wyoming Caucus and House Democrats outnumber Freedom Caucus members in that chamber.

More Teamwork To Come?

A few statistical studies performed by groups like on the Wyoming Legislature in recent years have shown that the Wyoming Caucus and Freedom Caucus are farther apart in political ideology than the Wyoming Caucus is to the five House Democrats. Whether that’s evidence that the Wyoming Caucus is closer to center or evidence of how far-right the Freedom Caucus is, is a matter of personal opinion.

This dynamic has led to members of the Wyoming Caucus bringing bills like HB 63 that aim to find a middle ground between opposing camps on certain issues, but still featuring a conservative slant.

Provenza said Republicans are welcome to vote with her whenever they like, as she believes she’s on the “right side of bills all the time.”

“They could join the Democratic Caucus if they like. We could even form a broader coalition and become the solutions caucus,” she said.

Rep. Mike Yin, D-Jackson, said Tuesday there will be many opportunities for Democrats and Republicans to support or oppose bills together this session, even if it’s not for a shared vision.

“It’s really about finding solutions, which sometimes come out of left field,” he said. “So, without that creativity and all the options for us to debate on the field, then we may not find the right solution.”

Leo Wolfson can be reached at

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter