Kansas Governor Laura Kelly Vetoes Bill That Would Strip Away Access to Essential Health Care for Transgender Youth

by Cullen Peele

SB 233 is Sixth Anti-LGBTQ+ Bill Vetoed by the Governor

Topeka, KS - Today, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly vetoed SB 233, which, if enacted, would ban crucial, medically necessary health care for transgender youth. This is the latest anti-LGBTQ bill to be rejected by the governor, who vetoed a similar bill targeting gender affirming care last year, in addition to a slew of other extremist, anti-LGBTQ+ bills. Human Rights Campaign Senior Director, Legal Policy Cathryn Oakley released the following statement:

“We continue to thank Governor Kelly for seeing bills like SB 233 for what they really are: dangerous misinformation and attempts to target vulnerable youth for the sole purpose of riling up anti-LGBTQ+ extremists. If any legislation seeks to ban best practice, medically necessary health care for no purpose other than the person receiving that care is transgender, that is discrimination - plain and simple. Doctors, patients, and families – not politicians – should be making health care decisions. As Governor Kelly has made clear with her previous vetoes of other anti-LGBTQ+ bills, discrimination is not in line with Kansan values. Legislators should do the right thing and sustain this veto”

Human Rights Campaign Senior Director, Legal Policy Cathryn Oakley

Other bills vetoed by Governor Kelly over the past year that target transgender Kansans include:

  • SB 26: Similar to SB 233, prohibits transgender youth from receiving gender affirming care

  • SB 180: Applies a definition of gender discriminating against transgender individuals

  • SB 228: Requires individuals to use restrooms aligning with their gender assigned at birth

  • HB 2128: Forces misgendering in overnight and jail cell accommodations for transgender Kansans

  • HB 2238: Bans the participation of transgender student athletes in school sports

Before 2020, no state had ever introduced legislation to ban health care for transgender Americans, which has been safely prescribed for decades and has the support of every major medical association and leading health authority. This places the Kansas legislature’s majority at odds with most Kansans and people nationwide. Americans would prefer that politicians either protect transgender people or not focus on transgender issues at all. Only 17% of Americans, and only 29% of Republicans, say politicians should focus on restricting gender-affirming care.

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.

For more information, please visit hrc.org/transgender as well as these resources:

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.


Contact Us

To make a general inquiry, please visit our contact page. Members of the media can reach our press office at: (202) 572-8968 or email press@hrc.org.