The bills, with the Assembly bill written by Republican Representative Scott Allen of Waukesha and the Senate bill written by Republican Senator Andre Jacque, would bar hormone treatments, puberty blockers, and surgeries from being given to anyone under 18 years of age.
The “Help Not Harm Act,” as it is being called, claims that such treatment can be harmful to children. Allen says that he is worried about gender affirming treatment in youth.
“There seems to be a growing contagion in youth undergoing medical procedures for gender transition. And before it grows tremendously I think that it’s a good idea to have a public policy discussion about it,” Allen says.
In a press release, Allen says that people who undergo gender transition have a higher suicide rate than the general population. Sean O’Brian, the advocacy and organizing strategist of Fair Wisconsin, a nonprofit that advocates for LGBTQ rights, says that he disagrees.
“Research shows that transgender youth whose parents supports their gender identity have a 52% decrease in suicidal thoughts, a 48% decrease in suicide attempts, and a general increase in their self esteem and their general health. Being a kid is hard enough, and we don’t need politicians making it even harder for kids who are trans, and denying them medical access will increase and single them out for bullying and harassment, ” O’Brian says.
According to the Journal of Sexual Medicine, less than half of one percent of people who transition go on to regret their decision.
An issue of note in the bills are puberty blockers, which are a prescription which block the release of puberty causing hormones. According to Mayo Clinic, this process is fully reversible and not permanent. Allen says, however, that this is not true, and that they may be harmful.
“As I understand the effects of puberty blockers, they can have significant and irreversible consequences because of the impacts on the holistic maturation process. I think that it is important, the reason for the bill is to make sure we are providing the help that people need, and not providing harm to their bodies that is irreversible,” Allen says.
Under the bill, parents or legal guardians of someone receiving this treatment would be able to sue doctors and medical professionals for prescribing the treatment. A lawsuit could also be opened by the attorney general or any district attorney in Wisconsin.
O’Brian says that the bills are built upon a lack of understanding of medical care.
“I would say that this is the most extreme political attack on transgender and nonbianary people that I can remember. It displays a fundamental lack of understanding of our transgender children, and it criminalizes best practice medical care for our transgender children, which is all backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and many other medical leaning authorities,” O’Brian says.
The bill is a part of a nationwide push to ban gender affirming medical care to children. In 2021, Republicans introduced 58 similar bills across the nation, with some using the same “Help Not Harm” name.
This is also not the first anti-transgender bill introduced by Representative Allen. In 2021, he introduced two bills to keep transgender women from competing in women’s sports. Those Assembly bills have not yet received a vote.
The bills are currently being circulated for co-sponsorship.