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By Allison Allsop
LSU Manship School News Service
BATON ROUGE—Republican committee chairman Fred Mills joined Democrats on Wednesday to kill a bill that would have ended gender-affirming care for minors.
House Bill 648 failed to make it out of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee after a 5-4 vote to defer the bill.
Mills, R-New Iberia and the committee’s chairman, joined four Democrats in voting to defer the bill. Mills is a pharmacist and is in his last term of office.
In a final statement before issuing his vote, Mills said, “I guess I’ve always, in my heart of hearts, have believed that a decision should be made by a patient and a physician. I believe in the physicians of Louisiana.”
The bill, authored by Rep. Gabe Firment, R- Pollock, would have prohibited doctors from performing medical procedures or prescribing medication that alters the appearance of individuals for the purpose of gender dysphoria on individuals under the age of 18.
The American Psychiatric Association defines gender dysphoria as psychological distress when one’s gender identity is different from one’s sex assigned at birth.
Under this bill, doctors would have also had to stop treatments that began prior to the bill.
“This bill simply protects kids from harm by ending the use of unproven, experimental and irreversible chemical and surgical procedures on children in Louisiana suffering from a condition called gender dysphoria,” Firment said.
The committee heard from both proponents and opponents of the bill over two hours.
Several doctors stepped forward to combat much of what was said by Firment and other proponents of the bill.
Dr. Clifton Mixon, a child and adolescent psychologist, said that the procedures and medications have been used for years in other capacities, so they are safe.
Many of the proponents of the bill spoke against surgical procedures. However, a study of Medicaid recipients by the Louisiana Department of Health found that no minors in Louisiana had these surgeries between 2017 and 2021.
Mixon stood by the practices he and his colleagues perform.
“We’re not providing access to youth for whom this is not appropriate,” Mixon said. “The success of our guidelines is supported by research, all showing high rates of treatment satisfaction and low rates of regret, less than 1% for the adolescents who we provide this medication to.”
Mixon said that his clinic usually waits for two years of social transitioning and therapy before beginning any sort of hormonal treatment.
Major medical associations agree that these types of treatment are effective in treating gender dysphoria.