Mississippi lawmakers have passed one of the first highly debated bills of the legislative session. It will ban gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth in the state.
Anti-trans bill clears Mississippi's legislature
House Bill 1125, known as the REAP Act, bans gender-affirming healthcare for minors. The bill was quickly passed out of the House in early January, and now is being sent to the Governor’s desk where it is expected to be signed. Republican Senator Joey Fillingane of Sumrall says this would not affect psychiatric medications or counseling for treating gender dysphoria.
Fillingane says “When you start altering the body, the physical nature of the body, in many instances an irreversible way, for a minor, someone 17 years of age and younger that’s serious. And the state policy if this bill becomes law would be to not allow that.”
HB 1125 bans surgical procedures, puberty blockers and hormone therapy for anyone 17 years and younger.
Some members of the Senate’s Democratic delegation did attempt to amend the legislation to carve out an exception for trans counseling. The amendment was authored by Senator Rod Hickman, who says this anti-trans legislation could further increase the high suicide rate of trans youth in Mississippi.
Hickman says “This is because they live in a society that has continually rejected them, and we have bodies of individuals such as this one who will pass legislation that is one, not necessary, but two, furthers the narrative that these individuals are not human beings deserving of the same rights that we all have.”
The amendment failed, and the final passage was split along party lines with one Democratic Senator voting present. Once the bill is signed, it will immediately go into effect.
Last week, a protest was held outside of the state capitol building calling on lawmakers to block HB 1125. Among the crowd were several teens who identify as trans, who say losing access to hormone therapy could cause severe health repercussions.
Gender transitioning surgeries are not available from any healthcare provider in Mississippi, not including breast reduction or enlargement. And those services require parental consent. Youth must also be at least 16 years old to receive hormone therapy in the state with parental consent.
There were several other bills filed this year that would have created more severe restrictions for trans-identifying Mississippians. But these bills did not pass out of their original chambers.
Civil rights advocates have already indicated they will challenge HB 1125 if it becomes law. They say this legislation could also increase the chances of violence against trans people in the state.