Kentucky governor vetoes transgender youth bill prohibiting 'gender-affirming' surgeries for minors

Kentucky's Democratic Governor Andy Beshear vetoed a Republican bill targeting transgender youths on Friday.

Kentucky governor vetoes transgender youth bill prohibiting ‘gender-affirming’ surgeries for minors
AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File
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Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear issued an election-year veto on Friday against a Republican bill that aimed to segregate access to bathrooms by biological sex and restrict so-called “gender-affirming” surgeries and treatments for minors.

The bill also prohibited discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools and allowed teachers to refuse to refer to transgender students by their preferred pronouns. The GOP-dominated legislature passed the bill with veto-proof margins.

In a written veto message, Beshear stated that the bill involved "too much government interference in personal healthcare issues" and took away parents' freedom to make medical decisions for their children. He warned of the bill's potential to increase youth suicides and said that it would endanger Kentucky's children.

“My faith teaches me that all children are children of God and Senate Bill 150 will endanger the children of Kentucky,” he wrote.

The governor shared that transgender children and their parents were among those who reached out to his office as he reviewed the legislation.

“I heard from children that believe this bill is picking on them, and asking – in many ways – why?” the governor said, the Associated Press reported. “I told them that I was going to show them that there is at least one person in Frankfort that cares for all of our children in the commonwealth, no matter what.”

Beshear's veto comes as he seeks re-election to a second term in a Republican-leaning state, with potential implications for the November election.

Republicans quickly criticized the governor's veto, accusing him of being out of touch with most Kentuckians on the issue. The Kentucky bill is part of a national trend in which state lawmakers are passing extensive measures restricting what activists are framing as LGBTQ+ rights.

The bill that reached Beshear's desk was fast-tracked through both legislative chambers on March 16, which allowed lawmakers to retain their ability to override the veto. The measure would have banned so-called gender-affirming care for transgender minors, outlawed gender reassignment surgery for those under 18, and prohibited the use of puberty blockers, hormones, and inpatient and outpatient gender-affirming hospital services.

Under the law, doctors would have to create a timeline to “detransition” children already on puberty blockers or hormone therapy, but could continue offering care if removing them immediately could cause harm.

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