© 2024 Louisville Public Media

Public Files:
89.3 WFPL · 90.5 WUOL-FM · 91.9 WFPK

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact info@lpm.org or call 502-814-6500
89.3 WFPL News | 90.5 WUOL Classical 91.9 WFPK Music | KyCIR Investigations
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Stream: News Music Classical

Gov. Beshear vetoes Ky. Legislature’s anti-transgender bill that bans gender-affirming medical care

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks at a microphone during an event.
J. Tyler Franklin
Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed a bill Friday that would block transgender kids in Kentucky from accessing gender-affirming medical treatments and negatively affect how they're treated in public schools.

The Kentucky Legislature’s GOP supermajorities can nix Beshear’s veto. If that happens, the ACLU of Kentucky indicated it will probably sue to try to block the bill.

This story mentions suicide and mental health issues. If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, you can reach the national Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by phone at 988, or online at https://988lifeline.org/.

If you’re looking for transgender peer support, you can reach Trans Kentucky at 859-448-5428 or online at transkentucky.com. You can also contact the Trevor Project, which provides free, confidential counselors who specialize in helping LGBTQ youth.

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed legislation Friday that would ban gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth in Kentucky and negatively affect how trans students are treated in public schools.

“Senate Bill 150 allows too much government interference in personal health care issues and rips away the freedom of parents to make medical decisions for their children,” he said in his veto message.

He also said he decided to veto the legislation “because my faith teaches me that all children are children of God and Senate Bill 150 will endanger the children of Kentucky.”

National surveys indicate trans and nonbinary youth experience suicidal thoughts at especially high rates. And research shows getting gender-affirming care, including treatments SB 150 would ban, can significantly reduce suicidal thoughts and depression for trans people.

The Kentucky Legislature’s GOP supermajorities have enough power to override Beshear’s veto. If that happens and this bill becomes law, the ACLU of Kentucky indicated it will probably sue to try to block the measure.

State lawmakers swiftly revamped and passed SB 150 earlier this month, combining elements of other anti-trans proposals into one big bill. Nearly every Republican voted for it and all but two Democrats voted against it.

The bill would:

  • Ban gender-affirming medical care, including treatments that delay puberty, other forms of hormone therapy and surgery, for trans and nonbinary people under 18 years old. 
  • Require revoking the licenses of doctors who provide such services.
  • Tell public schools to block trans students from using bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.
  • Allow public school teachers to misgender trans students.
  • Prevent public schools from allowing educational presentations that study gender identity or sexual orientation.

Beshear raised concerns not only about SB 150’s proposed restrictions on the health care trans children can receive but also about how the rules it would impose on public schools would negatively affect trans students.

He said it “strips freedom from parents to make personal family decisions” on how people should refer to their children.

Republican state lawmakers modeled aspects of SB 150 on measures GOP legislators have pursued in other states.

Their actions are part of a broader, nationwide pattern of conservative politicians and anti-LGBTQ groups pushing to restrict the ability of LGBTQ people, especially those who are trans or nonbinary, to access gender-affirming care and participate in public life.

The Republican Party of Kentucky slammed Beshear — who’s seeking a second term as governor this year — for his veto Friday. Spokesman Sean Southard said in a statement that it “revealed how radical he truly is.”

“Once this campaign is over, today may very well be remembered as the day Andy Beshear lost his bid for reelection,” Southard said.

Some lawmakers who voted for SB 150 said they support its health care ban because they want to protect children from gender-affirming medical treatments — even though major national and state medical associations collectively say states should not prohibit those forms of health care.

In Friday’s veto message, Beshear expressed concern that the legislation could contribute to an increase in suicide among trans youth in Kentucky.

“The American Medical Association reports that receipt of care dramatically reduces the rates of suicide attempts, decreases feelings of depression and anxiety and reduces substance abuse,” he said.

It’s already hard for trans minors and adults to access gender-affirming medical treatments.

Experts say the decision for a trans person under 18 years old to receive hormone therapy is reached through careful consultations between the child, their parents and their health care providers. And they say it’s quite rare for a minor to get any form of gender-affirming surgery.

Leading Republican lawmakers moved forward with SB 150 despite opposition from the Kentucky Medical Association and Kentucky Psychological Association.

Support for this story was provided in part by theJewish Heritage Fund.

Morgan is LPM's health & environment reporter. Email Morgan at mwatkins@lpm.org.

Can we count on your support?

Louisville Public Media depends on donations from members – generous people like you – for the majority of our funding. You can help make the next story possible with a donation of $10 or $20. We'll put your gift to work providing news and music for our diverse community.