Sponsor of anti-trans healthcare bill calls “transgenderism” a mental illness

Tennessee Republican Rep. John Ragan, wants to deny transgender minors life saving health care because they have, in his opinion, a mental illness.

tennessee HB 578

A Tennessee lawmaker called gender dysphoria a “mental illness” and compared transgender children’s wish to align with their gender identity to “childhood desires,” such as becoming a firefighter.

Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, who made the comment during a Wednesday House subcommittee hearing, is championing a bill that would make it harder for transgender youths to access gender-affirming care in Tennessee. The bill has raised concerns from experts and LGBTQ advocates that transgender youths’ already-slim access to health care may be further restricted.

HB578/SB657 would ban gender-affirming medical care for transgender children prior to puberty and make it nearly impossible for them to access the care after they’ve entered puberty. Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma, carries the matter in the upper chamber.

Ragan, who championed similar legislation last year, argued Wednesday his bill aims to “protect innocent minor children” from “decisions potentially damaging their own health and wellbeing.” He likened sex reassignment surgery to female genital mutilation, which is restricted under state law.

“We already have laws on the books that prevent permanent damage to minors, even with parental approval,” he said. “The American College of Pediatricians has condemned hormone treatment and surgical operations on children with gender dysphoria as child abuse.” ACP is deemed an “anti-LGBTQ hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge lied about or willfully misrepresented HB578 on the following points:

Ragan referenced The ACP and no other medical authority. The ACP is a known hate group, not a medical authority.

Ragan talked about peeping toms and genital mutilation much like Anita Bryant did in her crusade against gay rights.

There is a very small number of minors who discover that their authentic gender is who they were identified at birth. This is normal and healthy. The reason the number is so small is that there are procedures in place to properly evaluate those with gender dysphoria. Rep. John Ragan would do away with those procedures should his bill become law, costing thousands of lives by denying them life-saving healthcare.

There are approved medical procedures in place to treat prepubescent youth. A youth with parental consent and or accompaniment may seek counseling. A minor may not undergo medical procedures until they reach the age of majority. A minor may upon reaching puberty ask that they be prescribed hormone blockers to delay the onset of unwanted changes. This gives the minor time to make a decision on whether to proceed with hormone therapy and is fully reversible by discontinuing the puberty blocker regimen.

These 31 medical associations approve of the gender-affirming procedures that Rep. John Ragan’s wants to do away with.

American Academy of Nursing
American Academy of PAs
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Academy of Psychiatry and The Law
American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry
American College Health Association
American College of Physicians
American Medical Association
American Medical Student Association
American Medical Women’s Association
American Nurses Association
American Pediatric Surgical Association

American Psychiatric Association
American Psychological Association
American Public Health Association
Association of American Medical Colleges
Association of Nurses in AIDS Care
Doctors for America
Endocrine Society
GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality
HIV Medicine Association
LBGT Physician Assistant Caucus
National Association of Social Workers
National Council for Behavioral Health
National Council of Asian Pacific Islander Physicians
Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine
Society of General Internal Medicine
Society of Physician Assistants in Pediatrics
The Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists
United States Professional Association for Transgender Health
World Professional Association for Transgender Health

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Kelli, Busey is managing editor at Planet Transgender