With misinformation and panic spreading across social media, particularly about anything involving sexuality, it was good to see a legislative committee react cautiously to a proposal seeking to ban doctor-prescribed treatments involving today’s hot-button issue, sexual dysphoria.
Measures like House Bill 648 by Rep. Gabe Firment, R-Pollock, are common enough in many Republican-controlled legislatures around the country. What is not common, at least here in Louisiana, is the “sexual transition” therapies that Ferment’s bill targeted.
The bill passed through the House but was rejected in committee after the Senate Health and Welfare Committee heard from actual experts on the issue.
Drastic sex-change operations are not common at all in Louisiana, and the widespread fear that minors would be subject to irreversible surgeries are false, witnesses testified. Medicaid insurance doesn’t pay for them, and the Louisiana Department of Health found none on its rolls in recent years.
Reversing the often-passionate calls for more parental controls over their children's lives, Firment’s bill conjured up a dysphoria of state-sanctioned terror.
“This bill is about protecting innocent children,” Firment said. “No one in Louisiana has the right to harm a child.”
Again and again, if people in society don’t behave the way deeply conservative Republican activists think they should, legislation appears to be required. But the facts from experts suggest that limited gender-affirming care with drugs might, with supervision of parents and doctors, be right for some under age 18.
And although it was a close vote, 5-4, senators agreed with factual testimony. That’s what committees ought to do.
The vote on this bill should not have been a close call at all.