Beshear vetoes controversial transgender health care bill

Published 11:07 am Monday, March 27, 2023

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By Sarah Ladd

Kentucky Lantern

Democrat Gov. Andy Beshear on Friday vetoed a bill that would, among other things, ban gender-affirming care for Kentucky’s transgender minors.

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The legislation, Senate Bill 150, was passed by the Kentucky legislature in mid-March.

Beshear’s veto was not surprising – in 2020 he became the first sitting Kentucky governor to attend an LGBTQ+ fairness rally. And, on the day the legislature passed Senate Bill 150, Beshear said he believed transition and other medical decisions for transgender youth should be between them and their parents.

The legislature that passed the bill has the option to override his veto.

Explaining his veto, Beshear said the bill “allows too much government interference in personal healthcare issues and rips away the freedom of parents to make medical decisions for their children.”

It also, Beshear said, “turns educators and administrators into investigators” who would “question parents and families about how students behave and/or refer to themselves and others.”

SB150 directs local school boards to make policies keeping people from using bathrooms, locker rooms or showers that “are reserved for students of a different biological sex.”  The bill also places new restrictions on sex education in public schools.

Sponsor Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, has said the measure protects the rights of parents.

Trans kids may have use of single-stall bathrooms or “controlled use” of staff facilities, the bill says. They won’t have access to bathrooms that don’t conform to their birth sex when other students are using those facilities.

Beshear cited high rates of suicidality among Kentucky’s LGBTQ+ youth in his veto explanation.

The Trevor Project, which aims to end suicide among LGBTQ+ youth, also reported in 2022 that 59% of Kentucky’s transgender and nonbinary kids considered suicide, and 24% tried to take their own lives.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.

“Improving access to gender-affirming care,” Beshear said, “is an important means of improving health outcomes for the transgender population.”