The Four Anti-Trans Bills Filed by the Louisiana Legislature This Session Will Not Become Law

Firma de Memorando de entendimiento entre el Estado de Louisiana y Cuba. Por la parte cubana firmó Manuel Ferna ndo Pérez Guerra, director general de la Autoridad Portuaria Nacional de Cuba, y el Gobernador John Bel Edwards, por la norteamericana. Foto:” by Cubadebate is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

On Tuesday, Governor John Bel Edwards vetoed SB 156, by Senator Beth Mizell, which would have barred transgender girls and women from joining sports teams that match their gender identity. Edwards called the proposal discrimination and a “solution in search of a problem that does not exist in Louisiana.” 

Beth Mizell, who sponsored the legislation, said she created it to maintain a fair playing field in women’s sports, however, throughout the session, she was unable to name a single example where transgender participation in sports had resulted in unfairness in Louisiana. 

Acknowledging this, Edwards in his statement on vetoing the bill said, “Even the author of the bill acknowledged throughout the legislative session that there wasn’t a single case where this was an issue.” 

The legislation “would make life more difficult for transgender children, who are some of the most vulnerable Louisianans when it comes to mental health,” Edwards explained in his veto message. “We should be looking for more ways to unite rather than divide our citizens.”

Transgender students are already limited from participating in sports because the Louisiana High School Athletics Association’s rules require them to undergo drastic medical intervention, like sex reassignment surgery, before they can. After medical intervention, they still have to wait two years to participate on a sport’s team that matches their gender identity. 

“Like all students, transgender kids deserve the same chances to learn teamwork, sportsmanship, leadership, and self-discipline, and to build a sense of belonging with their peers,” said Dylan Waguespack, board president of Louisiana Trans Advocates. “Gov. Edwards sent a strong message to the trans youth who were consistently attacked in this legislative session that he’s their governor too.”

The measure was advanced by the Senate with a vote of 29-6 and cleared the House with a vote of 78-19. These wide margins mean the legislature could potentially override the governor’s veto if it called itself back to Baton Rouge for a special veto override session. 

House Speaker Clay Schexnayder said that he supports calling a special session to override Edward’s veto, however, a majority of members in both chambers would have to agree to return and it would also be the first time in its history the legislature called a special session.

A companion bill to SB 156 was filed in the House of Representatives by Representative Beryl Amedee. The bill, HB 542, would have essentially done the same thing as SB 156, however, it didn’t gain nearly as much traction. The Louisiana House Education Committee voted 6-5 to reject HB 542, with two Republicans joining Democrats on the committee to squash the bill. 

There were two other anti-trans bills in Louisiana’s legislature this year. Instead of dealing with trans youth sports participation though, they worked to block and prohibit trans youth from receiving healthcare. 

Gabe Firment filed HB 575 which would completely ban gender-affirming health care for youth and create criminal penalties for medical personnel who provide care. This bill would have also required school officials to out trans and gender non-conforming students to their parents. HB575 stalled in the house, not moving forward to be passed. 

Similarly, Mike Fesi filed SB 104 which would have prohibited gender therapy for transgender youth unless both parents gave written consent. Fesi shelved his bill after immense opposition from transgender people, health care providers, and advocates. 

Trans youth argued that if one parent wasn’t part of their life, the bill would keep them from getting care, while providers said the bill would keep them from giving care to people who direly need it. Fesi said he brought the bill because “parents need to be involved” and children are being “brainwashed” by Youtube and other social media platforms.

“This legislation is completely unnecessary,” Melissa Flournoy, a former state legislator who now chairs the board of Louisiana Progress Action, said. “If young people live at home and are on their parent’s insurance, the parents are involved.”

In 2021, there were 85 anti-transgender bills filed across the country. Many of the bills featured copycat sections and similar phrases, leading many advocates to believe it was a coordinated attack. The four bills in Louisiana did not pass, yet, advocates in the state need to continue to be vigilant against attacks from anti-trans legislators and groups. 

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