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Transgender people consider moving as Indiana transition care ban advances

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Transgender Hoosiers told News 8 on Tuesday that their options are running out after a House committee approved a ban on gender transition care for minors.

The bill cleared the House Public Health committee on the mostly party-line vote that marked its passage through the Senate earlier this session. It would ban hormone therapy, puberty blockers or surgery for gender transition uses for anyone under 18. The bill includes exceptions for people who are intersex or for medical procedures other than gender transition care that require such drugs.

With the bill’s passage looking increasingly likely, transgender people and their families said they are debating whether to move to more LGBTQ-friendly states. Leah Lacey said her 15-year-old transgender son would have to stop treatment if the bill becomes law. She said her son underwent psychiatric confinement five times from fourth grade until he came out in seventh grade and began treatment a year or so later. Lacey said her son became happier and much more involved once he began receiving treatment, joining his school’s marching band and swim team. She said she and her family are considering moving to Minnesota if the bill becomes law. The governor there recently issued an executive order requiring that state’s agencies to protect access to gender-affirming care.

“I don’t want to have to move,” she said. “I would have to leave my family and he doesn’t want to have to move.”

Following the bill’s passage out of committee, Stefanie Sharp told News 8 she fears it’s only a matter of time before lawmakers come after transgender adults like her. She said she, like Lacey, has already begun laying the groundwork for moving out of state if she feels it’s necessary.

“I already have family friends who I have asked and they have confirmed that if it gets real bad, then I can leave and crash on their couch,” she said.

The bill’s supporters repeatedly point to instances where someone received gender transition care and regretted their decision. Zandra Roberts said she it for several years in her 20s and said she still is dealing with the lingering effects of testosterone injections.

“I’m thankful that there were more barriers that prevented me from transitioning when I was still in school,” she said.

According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey of nearly 28,000 transgender Americans, conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality, about 8% of transgender people have detransitioned at some point in their lives. This is usually temporary and typically results from outside pressure. Just 5% of people who detransitioned, or 0.4% of transgender people overall, reported doing so because they concluded transitioning wasn’t right for them.

The bill now moves to the full House. The committee did not make any changes, so it would go directly to the governor’s desk if it passes the House without any floor amendments.

Gov. Eric Holcomb has not yet publicly stated his position on the measure.