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Bill aimed at preventing gender transition services for Kentuckians under 18 advances, opponents call bill 'cruel' and dangerous

Josh James

Physicians providing gender transition services to Kentucky minors risk losing their license under a bill making its way through the General Assembly. Passage of the measure out of committee led to heated exchanges between advocates and lawmakers.

Moments after the decision, an audience member shouted "murderer!"

LGBTQ supporters blasted members of the House Judiciary Committee after a 14-7 vote in favor of House Bill 470 — which would penalize healthcare professionals who provide gender transitioning services to those under 18 — arguing the bill will put transgender kids at greater risk of suicide.

The vote, which saw a handful of Republicans break ranks to oppose the bill, came after a 90-minute hearing and debate in front of a packed room and overflow area.

Louisville doctor Laurie Mount Grimes spoke to the panel, saying what's needed is compassion, not government intrusion.

"Trans identity cannot be legislated away and laws should not be enacted that directly increase their angst and sense of isolation," she said. "Why do trans kids not have the same rights that non-trans kids to nurtured and accepted by adults in their lives and communities."

The committee also heard raw testimony — both from a teen currently on puberty blockers and a self-described "former trans kid" from Minnesota, Luka Hein, who described the struggles she said she's undergone detransitioning.

The bill's sponsor, Republican Jennifer Decker, argued the treatments are unethical, premature, and not backed by long-term studies.

"This protects children from the harm at the hands of others," she said, comparing the bill to laws that prevent minors from obtaining alcohol or cigarettes, or operating a car.

Following comments from parents, youth, physicians, advocates, and a social worker, the committee voted the bill to the full House -- before exiting the chamber to more chants from angry and tearful onlookers.

The bill is only one of several aimed at LGBTQ-related issues this session.

UPDATE: House Bill 470 went on to pass the House 75-22.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.