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New Anti-Trans Bills Outlaw "Aiding And Abetting" Youth Transition
A new bill being heard in South Carolina would ban mental health providers "aiding and abetting" youth transition. This language could gag providers from talking about treatment options for dysphoria.
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A new type of gender-affirming care ban bill for transgender youths is gaining traction in predominantly Republican states. While earlier bans focused on medical professionals, the latest version being debated in several states extends to therapists, aestheticians, vocal coaches and more. These bills introduce a new legal violation, termed "aiding and abetting gender transition for minors." The intentionally broad language raises questions about which services could be considered as "aiding and abetting." Mississippi and Iowa have already passed bills with this language, and Indiana is currently considering one. South Carolina may be the next state to potentially target transgender individuals and their providers in this manner.
The definition of "aiding and abetting" in these bills varies. Indiana's legislation, for example, states that "a physician or other practitioner" cannot "aid or abet" gender transition in a minor. Iowa's bill restricts the clause to health care workers. However, South Carolina and Mississippi's bills are notably broad. South Carolina's language explicitly encompasses mental health care providers under aiding and abetting, while Mississippi simply states that "no person" may "aid or abet” gender transition for minors.
Here is South Carolina’s clause:
When a bill with this clause came up for public testimony in Indiana, many people from varying fields who could be impacted showed up to testify how cruel this section was. Vocal therapists testified that this bill could prevent them from helping transgender people learn how to train their voices. Aestheticians noted that this could stop them from doing hair removal services for trans girls who are growing facial hair. Therapists noted that there are no other accepted mental health care treatment methods that they could follow to give their clients knowledge on how gender affirming care works and whether it might be right for them.
Mental health care bans give providers no options on how to treat their patients. Because therapists could be barred from even mentioning that gender affirming care exists, they would be forced to gaslight their clients. Furthermore, what else could be considered aiding and abetting in a therapeutic session? If a therapist uses a transgender person’s pronouns and new name, could they be considered to be aiding and abetting gender transition? It’s easy to imagine how such a line could be used against these professionals.
Some states have pushed their mental healthcare clauses out of their bills, with one state defeating a gender affirming care ban entirely due to the way it could affect mental healthcare providers. Wyoming heard a gender affirming care ban for trans youth and Republican Senators were very concerned over the mental healthcare aspects of the bill. The bill was defeated there. Similar provisions were pulled out of Kentucky and Tennessee’s bans - Kentucky’s hearing had fierce fighting over the mental healthcare provisions. Most care bans in the United States right now do not have this language, but newer ones seem to contain it.
These care bans will harm trans people irreparably. Gender affirming care bans force trans people to go through the wrong puberty, sometimes after they’ve been on their medication for years and have existed as their gender in front of their peers. Forced detransition can mean mental health crises and worse. Gender affirming care is associated in a 73% reduction in suicidality among trans youth. Another study showed a 40% reduction in recent attempts. Attacking mental healthcare is a cruel new twist in the crusade to hurt trans kids, especially since the Trevor Project has noted that the majority of trans youth cannot access mental healthcare, even though they desire it:
The more states target providers with “aiding and abetting,” the more trouble transgender people will have in accessing this care. Notably, while most current legislation focuses on providers, Mississippi's law encompasses "people" as a whole. This bill, with penalties that are civil in nature, primarily targets professional licensure revocations, but it is plausible that similar language could be attached to a future criminal transition ban. Alabama already has such a ban in place. Potentially, this language could affect family, friends, and parents of minors who "aid and abet" a gender transition in various ways, from driving them out of state to using their preferred pronouns. These bills have broadened in alarming ways to target both transgender individuals and their supporters, making it crucial to remain vigilant for any new changes or evolutions in the future.