A coalition of health care workers filed a brief in support of a lawsuit challenging Indiana’s ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth. The coalition said the way the ban is written could have far-reaching effects on the care of Hoosier children.
The Good Trouble Coalition said if the ban were to take effect, it would cause “immediate and tangible harm” to health care providers and their patients.
Dr. Mary Norine Walsh is a cardiologist and board member for the Good Trouble Coalition. She said the goal of the brief was to contribute their expertise as providers.
“This could broadly affect the care of children in Indiana, in ways that were never intended,” Walsh said.
Gender-affirming care is health care that encompasses mental, social, medicinal and surgical care designed to treat gender dysphoria. There is national and international guidance for age-appropriate gender-affirming care. And gender dysphoria is clinically significant distress experienced by people whose gender assigned at birth and gender identity don’t match — though not all transgender people experience gender dysphoria.
The law, SEA 480, bans medicinal and surgical gender-affirming care for transgender youth in Indiana and also bans providers from “aiding and abetting” parents seeking that treatment outside of the state.
“We felt very strongly that this was a great example of a bill that we need to align with other organizations against,” Walsh said.
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Good Trouble Coalition’s brief raises a number of concerns. It argues the ban forces providers in Indiana to deviate from established standards of care for transgender youth, prohibits a form of mental health treatment that isn’t clearly defined and creates confusion over allowed services.
Walsh said that confusion is largely because of how broadly the law is written.
“Clinicians, such as those of us on the Good Trouble Collation, may feel – or other indications – we may be, under law, committing some sort of crime in just taking care of pediatric patients,” Walsh said.
Walsh said the law could be interpreted to include a ban on circumcisions or prescribing hormonal birth control for anyone under the age of 18. The brief itself argues that the ban “could have a chilling effect on all health care services provided to transgender minors in Indiana.”
Under the law, health care providers could be subject to civil litigation, medical licensing board discipline and enforcement action brought by the Indiana attorney general.
The law was largely halted from taking effect by a federal court in June. The ban on gender-affirming surgeries was upheld, as those go against national and international guidance for transgender youth younger than 18.