Louisiana lawmakers override veto, will ban sex changes for kids

Louisiana house of representatives The Louisiana Legislature on July 18, 2023, overrode the Democratic governor's veto of legislation banning transgender surgeries and treatments for minors. | Jeffrey Schwartz|Wikipedia|CC BY 2.0

Louisiana will become the 20th state to outlaw sex change operations for children after the Republican-led Legislature overrode the Democratic governor’s veto of the legislation.

The bill, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024, will prohibit doctors from performing sex change surgeries on anyone under the age of 18. The legislation will also ban doctors from prescribing drugs that are meant to facilitate a sex change, such as puberty blockers and hormone therapy, for patients who are minors.

Rep. Gabe Firment, the primary sponsor of the legislation, said in a statement that the override is a “huge win” for Louisiana children.

“We made it clear today that our children are worth fighting for,” Firment said in the July 18 statement. “This great victory would not have been possible without the prayers and support of parents, grandparents, pastors, and grassroots organizations from around the state who rose up and declared with one voice that ‘no one in Louisiana has the right to harm a child.’ God bless the families of our beautiful state!”

The new law will prohibit any sterilizing surgery on a minor, such as the removal of male or female genitals. It will also prohibit surgeries that would artificially construct tissue that is meant to appear like the genitalia of the opposite sex. Doctors will also not be allowed to remove healthy female breasts for girls or perform breast augmentation surgery on boys or girls.

Other surgeries that remove healthy or non-diseased parts of the body on a minor will also be prohibited, such as facial reconstruction surgery, hair reconstruction surgery, voice surgery, or other aesthetic surgeries designed to facilitate a gender transition.

The law will prohibit doctors from prescribing any drugs that are intended to delay or suppress puberty in a child and will not allow doctors to provide estrogen or testosterone treatments on minors in amounts that would be greater than what would naturally occur in a person of the same sex at that child’s age.

If a doctor has already prescribed these drugs to a minor, the doctor must either immediately halt the treatment or wean the child off of the drugs if necessary. A medical professional who violates the law will have his or her medical license suspended for a minimum of two years and could be subject to civil litigation from the patient. The law does not establish any criminal penalties.

The legislation creates an exception for medically necessary procedures to treat infections, injuries, physical disorders, or physical illnesses. There is also an exception for children born with a medically verifiable sex disorder, such as children who are born with ambiguous sex characteristics.

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards criticized the Legislature’s overriding of his veto.

“Today, I was overridden for the second time on my veto of a bill that needlessly harms a very small population of vulnerable children, their families, and their health care professionals,” the governor said. “I expect the courts to throw out this unconstitutional bill as well.”

Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry voiced his support of the override in a statement, saying: “The woke liberal agendas that are destructive to children will not be tolerated in Louisiana.”

“We have sent a signal to America that Louisiana intends to strengthen the family unit and to protect children from harmful gender reassignment surgeries … and I’m proud of those in the Legislature who voted to make this override successful,” Landry said.

Louisiana became the 20th state to prohibit sex change surgeries for children, but the practice is still legal in most states.

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