It has drawn some of the longest and most contentious debate of the 2023 legislative session, with most attempts to amend it failing while opponents have called it discriminatory and dangerous.
Now SB 480, which bans gender-affirming care for Indiana minors, has passed its second chamber of the General Assembly and heads to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s desk to face its final possible hurdle.
While proponents congratulated lawmakers after the bill passed the House Monday along party lines—“This important legislation will help prevent such child abuse, ” Attorney General Todd Rokita tweeted—critics were swift to respond.
“Indiana lawmakers seem hellbent on joining the growing roster of states determined to jeopardize the health and lives of transgender youth, in direct opposition to the overwhelming body of scientific and medical evidence supporting this care as appropriate and necessary,” said Katie Blair, advocacy and public policy director of the ACLU of Indiana, in a statement.
“The idea that these youth are being pushed into harmful medical care is an insult to their parents who are working very hard to get the best care for their children. Politicians harm us all when they ignore medical judgment and block access to standard care in favor of discriminatory fear-mongering. Transgender youth in Indiana deserve the support and care necessary to give them the same chance to thrive as their peers.”
She went on to say the ACLU will contest SB 480 in court if Holcomb signs it into law.
Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates East tweeted, “Gov. Holcomb must recognize that SB 480 is part of a coordinated campaign to erase trans Hoosiers and veto it without hesitation. This bill is flat out wrong. It’s wrong for Hoosier parents. It’s wrong for Hoosier youth. And it’s the antithesis of medical best practice.”
Earlier, on the House floor, Rep. Blake Johnson, D-Indianapolis, said the bill sent a message about the Assembly’s values.
“We choose winners and losers. We suggest that some Hoosiers matter more than others, that some beliefs matter more than others,” he said according to a press release. “And today, with Senate Bill 480, we are sending a signal to a very specific group of Hoosiers; young people who are among our most vulnerable, our most isolated, our most likely to suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts. We say to them, not that we’re here for them, but rather that there is in fact something wrong with them.
“We signal that in the eyes of the State, this population must be forced to fit our narrow understanding of identity, our myopic interpretation of the science and skewed version of the facts.”
In an op-ed offered to media, Rep. Vernon G. Smith, D-Gary, wrote, “While I understand there are many concerns surrounding the types of treatment afforded to children, I also listened as many doctors and healthcare professionals assured us no children in Indiana are receiving surgical or irreversible treatments. We also heard from many parents of transgender children who told us gender-affirming care saved their child’s life. …
“Senate Bill 480 is state-sanctioned bullying, plain and simple.”
Rep. Kyle Miller, D-Fort Wayne, said in a statement, “Beyond the cruelty of this legislation, bills like this will ultimately harm all Hoosiers in the end. We in the General Assembly have spent much of this session working to enhance our workforce, and simultaneously, Republicans are telling people that they aren’t welcome in our state.
“How can we expect to bring more businesses, workers and families to Indiana when we focus so much of our energy in the General Assembly interfering in the private matters of Hoosier families and persecuting people who are simply trying to live their most authentic lives?”
In a lengthy statement, House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne, said, “Statehouse Republicans again reach into the homes and doctors’ offices of Hoosiers in another bid to control the nuclear family. Draconian policies from the abortion ban to attacks on the LGBTQ community represent a larger desire to bring Uncle Sam into intimate family health decisions.
“The party that used to evangelize ideals like parental rights and small government has drifted far from its foundations. Only those individuals that align themselves and their families with the image of the Republican party can experience true individual liberties and freedoms in Indiana. GOP lawmakers think they know how to raise your families better than you do. They want to tell you exactly when and how to do it, too.”
He added: “Culture wars are not without costs. Vulnerable Hoosiers continue to be collateral of this extremist policymaking.”
SB 480 is one of several trans rights bills in the General Assembly this session, following a trend in statehouses nationwide. Last year, Holcomb vetoed a bill restricting trans children on sport teams, but the Assembly overrode it.