BREAKING: Human Rights Campaign Condemns the Kentucky Legislature for Overriding Gov. Beshear’s Veto of Sweeping Anti-Trans Bill

by HRC Staff

"This Bill Would Terrorize Transgender Youth in Schools, in Doctor’s Offices, and Even Could Put Them in Danger at Home"

Frankfort, Kentucky – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, condemns the Kentucky legislature for overriding Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto of Senate Bill 150, a sweeping discriminatory anti-trans bill.

“Senate Bill 150 allows too much government interference in personal healthcare issues and rips away the freedom of parents to make medical decisions for their children,” said Gov. Beshear in his veto message. He added, “Improving access to gender affirming care is an important means of improving health outcomes for the transgender population. Senate Bill 150 will cause an increase in suicide among Kentucky’s youth. For these reasons, I am vetoing Senate Bill 150.”

In response, Cathryn Oakley, HRC’s State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel released the following statement:

“Kentucky’s legislators show no shame. This discriminatory bill – which they snuck through the legislature in the final hours of session – is nothing but a desperate and cruel effort by extremist politicians in Kentucky to stigmatize, marginalize and erase the LGBTQ+ community, particularly transgender youth. These politicians have no place inserting themselves in conversations between doctors, parents, and transgender youth about gender affirming care; they have no place inside a middle school bathroom stall either. This bill would terrorize transgender youth in schools, in doctor’s offices, and even could put them in danger at home.
“Gov. Beshear heard the voices of transgender kids, their families, and medical experts and chose to treat transgender children with dignity and respect. But Kentucky’s legislators are instead ignoring their pleas and are continuing their discriminatory attacks on vulnerable children.”

Chris Hartman, Fairness Campaign Executive Director, released the following statement:

“While we lost the battle in the legislature, our defeat is temporary. We will not lose in court. And we are winning in so many other ways. Thousands of Kentucky kids came to the Capitol today to make their voices heard against the worst anti-trans bill in the nation. They are our hope for a Kentucky future that is more fair, more just, and more beautifully diverse and accepting than ever before.”

Kentucky Sen. Karen Berg, D-Louisville, released the following statement:

“Trans children exist and trans children deserve to be allowed to exist. Today, Kentucky’s legislators have chosen to promote hate and disinformation instead of standing up to it."

“This is absolute willful, intentional hate for a small group of people who are the weakest and the most vulnerable among us,” Sen. Berg said previously during the floor debate on SB 150. “You need to come back to these people and you need to ask them: Why did you get elected? What are you doing here? What was your purpose in choosing to serve? Because if it was to help the least among us, you are failing miserably.”

Sen. Berg is the mother of the late Henry Berg-Brousseau, a transgender employee of the Human Rights Campaign who took his own life at the end of 2022. “This hate building across the country weighed on him,” she said of her son, who spent years advocating for fair treatment of transgender people in Kentucky.

On the final regular day of session, in a blatant 11th hour attack, extremist Representatives rushed a revised version of SB 150 through the House chamber. In the hastily called House Education Committee, they cut out the potential for additional testimony and did not provide Representatives time and notice to read the new bill before bringing it to the floor. The bill will:

  • Ban gender affirming care: The bill will prohibit transgender youth from accessing best practice, age-appropriate medical care – care delivered after careful consultation with the young person’s parents and doctors. It would also force doctors to detransition transgender youth who have been receiving – and thriving – under their care plan.

  • Force teachers to disclose confidential conversations they’ve had with students about their sexual orientation or gender identity to the student’s parents, even if that would put the student in danger at home: This bill will make it more difficult for LGBTQ+ students to seek assistance from trusted adults in school, and could put children in real danger if they are not safe being out at home. The bill also requires teachers and students be allowed to misgender their own pupils and classmates, and prohibits schools from recommending or requiring any policies on pronoun use.

  • Ban transgender students from using school restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.

In emotional testimony, former state representative Jerry Miller, a Republican, opened up about how his young grandchild could be hurt by a bill to ban access to gender-affirming medical care for those under 18. “This bill condemns vulnerable children to an even more difficult life than they’ve already been born into,” Miller told a Senate committee. "Please don’t let a parent’s right to protect their children be collateral damage in the culture wars.”

The bill includes an extreme gender-affirming care ban that will directly place the health, safety and wellbeing of transgender youth in Kentucky at risk. Gender-affirming care is age-appropriate care that is medically necessary for the well-being of many transgender and non-binary people who experience symptoms of gender dysphoria, or distress that results from having one’s gender identity not match their sex assigned at birth. Gender-affirming care is the integration of medical, mental health, and social services. For transgender children, transition is an entirely social process which may include a new name or pronouns, wearing different clothes or styling one’s hair differently. At puberty, doctors may – in consultation with and having the informed consent of the transgender youth and their parents – prescribe reversible medication known as puberty-blockers, which allow a young person to safely reach an age in which they’re truly able to consent to further treatment. Every credible medical organization – representing over 1.3 million doctors in the United States – calls for age-appropriate gender-affirming care for transgender and non-binary people.

So far in 2023, HRC is tracking more than 470 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been introduced in statehouses across the country. Approximately 190 of those bills would specifically restrict the rights of transgender people, the highest number of bills targeting transgender people in a single year to date.

This year, HRC is tracking:

  • More than 110 bills that would prevent trans youth from being able to access age-appropriate, medically-necessary, best-practice health care; seven have already become law, in Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, South Dakota, Utah, Iowa and Georgia,

  • More bathroom ban bills filed than in any previous year,

  • More than 85 curriculum censorship bills and 40 anti-drag performance bills.

In a coordinated push led by national anti-LGBTQ+ groups, which deployed vintage discriminatory tropes, politicians in statehouses across the country introduced 315 discriminatory anti-LGBTQ+ bills in 2022 and 29 passed into law. Despite this, fewer than 10% of these efforts succeeded. The majority of the discriminatory bills – 149 bills – targeted the transgender and non-binary community, with the majority targeting children receiving the brunt of discriminatory legislation. By the end of the 2022 legislative session, a record 17 bills attacking transgender and non-binary children passed into law.

Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in 2022 took several forms, including:

  • 80 bills aimed to prevent transgender youth from playing school sports consistent with their gender identity. 19 states now exclude transgender athletes in school sports.

  • 42 bills to prevent transgender and non-binary youth from receiving life-saving, medically-necessary gender-affirming healthcare. 5 states now restrict access to gender-affirming care.

  • 70 curriculum censorship bills tried to turn back the clock and restrict teachers from discussing LGBTQ+ issues and other marginalized communities in their classrooms. 7 passed into law.

More than 300 major U.S. corporations have stood up and spoken out to oppose anti-LGBTQ+ legislation being proposed in states across the country. Major employers in tech, manufacturing, hospitality, health care, retail, and other sectors are joining with a unified voice to say discrimination is bad for business and to call on lawmakers to abandon these efforts. Four of the largest U.S. food companies also condemned “dangerous, discriminatory legislation that serves as an attack on LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender and nonbinary people,” and the Walton Family Foundation issued a statement expressing “alarm” at the trend of anti-transgender legislation that recently became law in Arkansas.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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