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Maryland House committee to hear bill restricting gender-affirming care for children

By Alexus Davila

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    BALTIMORE, Maryland (WJZ) — Maryland lawmakers are set to weigh in on a bill that aims to limit gender-affirming care for children.

Delegate Lauren Arikan from Harford County, a Republican, proposed HB 722, which would “ensure the protection of minors from life-altering, permanent medical procedures that have not been proven as necessary or helpful in the treatment of gender dysphoria.”

The bill would prohibit healthcare providers from performing gender-affirming medical or surgical procedures to children without parental consent. It references any type of care that alters a child’s appearance or the perception of their sex or gender.

The bill has the support of 15 Republicans and 3 Democrats in the House.

The Health and Government Operations Committee will hold a hearing on the bill Wednesday at 1 p.m. Bill supporters say they want to ensure parents have the final say on gender-affirming surgery for minors.

An hour before the hearing, delegates and bill supporters, even from out of state, will gather to express their thoughts on this bill.

One of the bill supporters visiting is a queer woman who says she quit her job at a hospital in St. Louis because she was alarmed by some of the procedures she saw children were eligible for.

Right now, a range of gender-affirming services are available to Marylanders under Medicaid coverage. It just started this year under the Trans Health Equity Act to make healthcare more inclusive.

Last month, WJZ spoke to Renee Lau, who started transitioning five years ago. She told us how meaningful it was to her to see the state expand healthcare coverage to include people like her.

“It’s an emotional relief, you just don’t know how much,” she said. “‘Cause I plan on having some surgeries and having consultations, matter of fact, within the next two months, okay? And you would not believe the relief it is for me, because I never could have paid for that out of pocket.”

According to research from UCLA’s Williams Institute, there are an estimated 8,000 transgender minors and 24,000 transgender adults in Maryland.

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