Human Rights Campaign Calls on Gov. Evers to Veto Budget Provision Blocking Medicaid Coverage for Gender Affirming Healthcare

by HRC Staff

MADISON, WISCONSIN — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, condemns Wisconsin legislators for advancing a provision in the state budget that would block Wisconsinites from getting Medicaid coverage for certain gender affirming healthcare services. The provision bars Medicaid reimbursement for gender reassignment surgery and coverage of puberty blockers if the medication is used to treat gender dysphoria or to assist in gender transition.

Human Rights Campaign Wisconsin State Director Wendy Strout released the following statement:

“Gender affirming care is recommended by the entire mainstream American medical establishment for transgender and non-binary people. Age-appropriate, best practice gender affirming health care saves lives. The decision about whether to seek this best practice care is a deeply personal one that should be left to a patient, their families, and their doctor – not politicians. The Human Rights Campaign strongly condemns these harmful provisions and calls on Gov. Tony Evers to veto them.”

In 2019, a federal judge found in favor of a group of transgender Wisconsin residents and struck down a state policy that excluded gender-affirming care from Medicaid coverage. That 1997 rule violated the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause as well as federal laws, including the Affordable Care Act, the judge ruled.

During a committee hearing, State Sen. Kelda Roys, D-Madison, condemned legislators’ attacks on transgender and non-binary Wisconsinites. "Why do you want to hurt them so badly? Why are they political punching bags for you?” she asked.

THE FACTS: Gender-Affirming Care

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. “Transition-related” or “gender-affirming” care looks different for every transgender and non-binary person. Parents, their kids, and doctors make decisions together, and no medical interventions with permanent consequences happen until a transgender person is old enough to give truly informed consent.

This is why majorities of Americans oppose criminalizing or banning gender affirming care. Two recent national surveys report that majorities of Americans oppose “criminalizing” or “banning” gender transition-related medical care for minors: 54% oppose (NPR/Marist on 3/20-23, 2023); 53% oppose (Grinnell College National Survey on 3/14-19, 2023). Democrats and Independents drive opposition to such legislation, suggesting that support for such bans carries risk in a general election context.

Gender transition is a personal process that can include changing clothes, names, and hairstyles to fit a person’s gender identity. Some people take medication, and some do not; some adults have surgeries, and others do not. How someone transitions is their choice, to be made with their family and their doctor. Therapists, parents and health care providers work together to determine which changes to make at a given time that are in the best interest of the child. In most young children, this care can be entirely social. This means:

  • New name

  • New hairstyle

  • New clothing

  • None of this care is irreversible.

Being transgender is not new. Some say it can feel like being transgender is very new – but that’s because the media has been covering it more in recent months and years. But transgender people have always existed and will continue to exist regardless of the bills we pass. And very few transgender people change their mind.

ALL gender-affirming care is age-appropriate, medically necessary, supported by all major medical organizations, made in consultation with medical and mental health professionals AND parents. And in many cases, this care is lifesaving: A recent study from the Trevor Project provides data supporting this — transgender youth with access to gender-affirming hormone therapy have lower rates of depression and are at a lower risk for suicide.

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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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