On April 5, 2023, Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb approved a bill banning all gender-affirming care for minors in the state.
The bill, prohibits transgender youth under the age of 18 from accessing hormone therapies, puberty blockers and surgeries in the state. Some of these medical aids are life-saving, and outlawing them could result in major life crises for trans youth.
I struggle to understand why a bill that focuses on taking away the rights of a minority community within the U.S. was even up for consideration. Similarly, more than 100 bills targeting LGBTQ rights have been filed in 22 states in 2023. As of now, this year would set the record for anti-LGBTQ legislation.
As I read about this recent news, I couldn’t help but think about the national news coverage of school shootings that have occurred in the past few months, and the recent approval of the Willow Project, which puts our environment at even more risk than it was before. As of now, legislation on anti-LGBTQ rights is being considered and approved, rather than anything having to do with things like gun violence or mental health policies that could help prevent more shootings from happening, or solutions to the continuous detrimental effects of climate change.
For example, bills on reducing gun violence, solutions to climate change, and protection over those with or at risk of mental illness and addiction are being considered by Indiana legislation. These bills hold importance over true issues within Indiana, and need to be passed, rather than the states officials fixating on anti-LGBTQ legislation.
Right now, it seems easier for bills to be passed that take away the rights of minorities within America, rather than protecting them.
I had a similar reaction last year when the Supreme Court decided to overturn Roe v. Wade. The overturning of this Supreme Court decision not only targeted women's basic fundamental rights, but also reinforced the lack of health care access for marginalized communities.
That same year, there were over 600 mass shootings in the U.S. alone, resulting in innocent lives being lost.
As I look at these statistics, it seems to me that the U.S. government wants to tell its citizens what to do or what not to do with their own bodies, rather than figuring out a solution for the safety of their citizens’ lives.
These two pieces of government legislation represent the continuous attacks from the government on marginalized communities, rather than focusing on the bigger issues.
As of now, over 140,000 trans youth are at risk or have already lost their access to gender-affirming care. In a statement detailing the impact of banning this kind of care , the Williams Institute explains that, in some states, families of transgender youth who provide any kind of access to the care would have their actions classified as child abuse.
So, the passing of this bill not only affects the child's own right to decide what to do with their bodies, but also puts their family at risk of being accused of a crime for providing support for their child's decisions.
Overall, this bill seems to have the goal of criminalizing what Indiana’s youth decides to do with their own selves.
News articles of shootings, effects of climate change and endless reminders of how the mental health of America’s youth is declining continue to surface in my newsfeed. At the same time, coverage of anti-LGBTQ bills being approved continues, reflecting the continued ignorance of America’s youth by government legislation.
To me, it doesn’t make sense for there to be coverage on recent events like shootings or mental health awareness, and for legislators to instead pass a bill on taking away the rights of the LGTBQ community, a minority in the U.S.
A sponsor of the new law, Indiana Rep. Joanna King of Middlebury named the now banned treatments as “irreversible, harmful, life-altering procedures.”
To me, the lack of gun control, sensible environmental policies and mental health needs are more “harmful” to the children of America than access to gender-affirming care. Indiana legislators and U.S. legislators need to recognize that we are all deserving of being heard and protected within America whether or not we are a part of the LGBTQ community, or a part of any other minority. Right now, taking away the rights of a minority group in America is more damaging to democracy than it is to moving it forward. Instead, it is up to the states like Indiana to take it into their own hands to move towards a place where people of all identities feel safe within their own homes and feel that they can be who they are without the fear of their rights being stripped away.
Carolyn Marshall is a sophomore majoring in media studies and English.