Nebraska governor tightens restrictions on gender transition treatments for minors

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Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen has approved restrictions on gender transition treatments for people under the age of 19, as more states enact regulations for “gender-affirming” procedures for minors.

“Nebraska’s kids are our future. They deserve the opportunity to grow up and develop to their full, God-given potential,” Pillen said in a statement last week. “As a state, we must protect children from making potentially irreversible and regrettable decisions – decisions for which they may not completely understand the consequences.”

The law took effect this week.

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Republican Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen announced Tuesday the appointment of Dr. Timothy Tesmer as the state’s next chief medical officer. (Kenneth Ferriera/Lincoln Journal Star via AP, File)

Last week, Pillen, a Republican, signed legislation known as the Let Them Grow Act, which would require transgender people under the age of 19 who are seeking nonsurgical pharmaceutical gender-altering treatments to clear several hurdles before getting treatment. That includes 40 hours of therapy before they’re granted puberty blockers or hormonal prescriptions.

If such prescriptions are granted, minors have to wait seven days until they can receive them. Once they get either puberty blockers or hormonal prescriptions, minors will also have to undergo one hour of therapy every three months to evaluate their mental wellness.

“I’m pleased that the process is over,” Republican state Sen. Kathleen Kauth told the Nebraska Examiner. “I hope that it helps kids.”

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People protesting

The governor of Nebraska signed a bill restricting “gender-affirming care” for minors.  (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

However, advocates of more widespread access to so-called “gender-affirming” procedures and prescriptions see the law as harmful for kids who identify as transgender. The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska released a statement following the governor’s signature, saying Nebraska lawmakers “have decided to flatly ignore the serious concerns raised by impacted young people as well as their family members and their medical and mental health providers.”

“To be clear, we are talking about gender-affirming care that is endorsed by major medical organizations and recognized as often life-saving care,” ACLU spokesperson Grant Friedman said. “Young trans Nebraskans and their families have been struggling to access needed gender-affirming care under the emergency regulations, and now they know that will continue under these discriminatory final regulations.”

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Trans kids rally at the Utah State Capitol

Tree Crane, 17, poses for a photograph following a rally where hundreds gathered in support of transgender youth at the Utah State Capitol Jan. 24, 2023, in Salt Lake City. (Rick Bowmer)

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The new law comes as more conservative states are enacting laws that severely restrict both surgical and nonsurgical transgender procedures for minors. And states like Idaho, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Alabama and Florida have taken it a step further by making it a felony to give minors any gender-transition prescriptions or perform surgical procedures, such as sex changes. 

Meanwhile, several states have created “shield laws” that protect these procedures and gender-transition prescriptions for transgender people, including California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, New York, Vermont, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Maryland, Illinois and Massachusetts.

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