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Despite two attempts to outlaw it, gender-affirming care will remain legal in Wyoming

A black bison on a transgender flag
Jeff Victor
Wyoming Public Media/Laramie Reporter

Lawmakers brought two bills this session aimed at outlawing gender-affirming care for trans youth. Both of those bills died in the House.

Sen. Charles Scott (R-Casper) filed a bill that would have made it a felony to provide trans youth with gender-affirming care like surgery or hormone blockers.

The bill garnered fierce debate in the Senate Labor Committee, but ultimately sailed through the Senate, passing out of that chamber with a 22-9 vote.

But that's as far as it got. Like a lot of bills this session, Scott's bill died when it failed to get introduced in the House of Representatives.

A series of bubbles shows the bill's path through the legislature. Green bubbles show the bill passed all the way through the Senate, its chamber of origin. A red X labeled "did not consider" shows where the bill died, while an additional five, empty bubbles show the path through House that this bill will never get to make.
Jeff Victor
Wyoming Public Media/Laramie Reporter
Senate File 111 was not considered for introduction in the House of Representatives.

A different bill with the same goal of banning gender-affirming care for trans youth got a little further.

Sen. Anthony Bouchard (R-Cheyenne) filed a bill that would have stripped healthcare professionals of their licenses if they gave trans youth gender-affirming surgery, hormone blockers or possibly even gender-affirming therapy. It would have also prohibited insurance companies from covering any of this care.

Bouchard's bill sailed through the Senate, passing out of that chamber with a 26-5 vote. From there it went to the House Appropriations Committee — and the committee voted against the bill but didn't officially kill it. Bouchard's bill officially died when the full House missed the deadline to consider it.

A series of circles show the bill's path through the Legislature. Five green circles show its successful path through the House, but two red circles show it failed in committee and then on the House floor. Three blank circles show the rest of the journey this bill will never make.
Jeff Victor
Wyoming Public Media/Laramie Reporter
Senate File 144 was advanced out of committee with a recommendation of "do not pass." Because of that vote, the House could have considered the bill, but did not before the deadline to do so.

Every major medical association in the country, and the best available research, supports gender-affirming care as the standard of care for transgender youth.

But during debates on Senate Files 111 and 144, many Republican lawmakers painted transgenderism as a fad, claimed young people and parents were being pushed into it, referred to gender-affirming surgeries as “mutilation,” and highlighted the statistically rare stories of detransitioners as cautionary tales against the alleged dangers of gender transition.

For example, Rep. Sarah Penn (R-Lander), said children cannot be trusted to make decisions with such long-lasting impacts before adulthood.

"We know that adolescent brains, that a human brain, is not developed until the mid-20s," Penn told the House Appropriations Committee. "So how can we expect a child to enter into a contract such as this — with permanent and irreversible consequences — when they don't understand, they can't understand, what it is they're consenting to?"

But other testifiers — including LGBTQ activists, the Wyoming Education Association and queer youth themselves — stressed there are also "permanent and irreversible consequences" of going through puberty as the wrong gender.

Trans youth are at a higher risk for depression and suicide and that risk is worse in places where they are unable to access gender-affirming care. Further, almost all individuals who undergo gender transition report improved quality of life. While detransitioners — those who underwent gender-affirming surgery only to later regret it — make up a large part of the discourse surrounding this issue, they represent an extreme minority.

Senate Files 111 and 144 were two of several anti-LGBTQ bills tried this session. Another bill — a close copy of Florida’s "Don't Say Gay" bill — also failed to see daylight in the House. A fourth bill — banning trans girls and women from competing on female sports teams — passed in both chambers and is now awaiting the governor's signature or veto.

Jeff is a part-time reporter for Wyoming Public Media, as well as the owner and editor of the Laramie Reporter, a free online news source providing in-depth and investigative coverage of local events and trends.
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