TOPEKA —  State employees would no longer be able to so much as call transgender children by their chosen pronouns under a bill blocking transgender minors in the state from receiving gender-affirming care. The legislation is barreling toward the governor’s desk. 

Passed by the House with a 80-40 vote, Senate Bill 233 bans health care professionals from using surgery or puberty blockers to treat transgender children. Despite Republican lawmakers’ claims that puberty blockers and hormone therapy are unsafe, the same therapy will be allowed for cisgender children with developmental disorders or other health conditions.

The bill now heads to the Senate. 

Similar legislation was vetoed by Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly last session, and a veto override attempt failed during the last legislative session. House lawmakers will need 84 votes to override a potential Kelly veto. With four Republican lawmakers absent during the Wednesday vote, the Republican House supermajority may have enough votes to do so. 

Under the legislation, providers who offer gender-affirming care to minors could have their licenses yanked. Another provision allows for lawsuits against providers who offer gender-affirming care up to 10 years after their patients turn 18. The bill bans the use of state funds and resources for medical or social transitioning. It would also ban state employees from helping minors to “social transition,” such as using a trans child’s preferred pronouns.

In a joint statement celebrating the bill’s passage, Republican House Speaker Dan Hawkins, House Majority Leader Chris Croft and Speaker Pro Tempore Blake Carpenter compared the ban to age limitations on alcohol consumption. 

“One of our jobs as legislators is to ensure the right protections are in place for the well-being of Kansas kids,” the statement read. “There are numerous examples of this including age restrictions for the purchase of alcohol or cigarettes, gambling, and other practices that can lead to sustained, negative outcomes for vulnerable youth. Kids’ brains aren’t fully developed to the point they can make these life-altering decisions.” 

These restrictions go against commonly accepted medical practices. Gender-affirming care for youths is supported by health care organizations including American Medical Association and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 

Multiple studies show gender-affirming care for transgender minors help alleviate distress and depression for a community that faces heightened risk of suicide and social isolation. Transgender Kansans and parents of trans Kansans themselves urged lawmakers to reconsider the bill multiple times over several bill hearings. 

“Anyone who voted yes on SB 233 is going to hell. like straight up. I want to practice therapy in this state but with laws like this, who knows if I’ll be able to?” tweeted Adam Kellogg following the bill’s passage. Kellogg is a transgender man and activist that has made multiple appearances at the Statehouse to campaign against harmful legislation. 

The move inches Kansas closer to joining the 22 states that have similar bans, including Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas and Nebraska, part of a wave of anti-trans legislation pushed by Republican-dominated legislatures throughout the U.S. and in conservative governments abroad. 

House Minority Leader Vic Miller of Topeka condemned the legislation.  

“Not only does the Republican Party think they have the right to tell parents how to best raise their children, but they’re criminalizing health care workers  during a time when we struggle to find enough doctors in the state for basic care,” Miller said. “They just can’t help themselves, as proven by the annual iterations of bills like this. Let parents parent and let health care workers provide care.”