Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) signed a new law banning gender-affirming care for trans youth on Tuesday amid Republican attacks against LGBTQ+ communities across the country.
Reeves, who is up for reelection this year, said the law is meant to combat a “dangerous movement that’s spreading across America,” leaning into conservative dog whistles about trans people that doctors say are already harming vulnerable youth.
“This is truly scary stuff that’s being pushed upon our kids and, yes, their loving parents,” Reeves said. “They’re being taken advantage of, all so some can push their warped view on gender or appear to be ‘woke’ for their friends.”
Utah and South Dakota recently passed similar laws, and at least 150 bills targeting trans people have been introduced in statehouses so far this year. Seven states now bar minors from seeking gender-affirming care (although judges have blocked such legislation in Arkansas and Alabama while suits move forward).
Human rights groups condemned the new Mississippi law, painting it as a political decision meant to bolster Reeves’ reelection bid.
“This is an outrageous attack on LGBTQ+ Mississippians and their families,” Rob Hill, the Mississippi state director for the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. “[Reeves] is in no position to dictate the decisions that doctors and their patients make about health care. This is nothing more than an attempt to inflate his flagging poll numbers ahead of a difficult re-election campaign.”
The Mississippi legislation goes into effect immediately. It bans doctors from prescribing puberty-blocking medication or hormone therapy and bars surgery related to gender transition for anyone younger than 18. Any doctors found violating the ban can lose their medical license, and there is a 30-year statute of limitation to bring suits against those who flout the law.
Leading medical groups have deemed such care as medically necessary. The American Medical Association and American Academy of Pediatrics have sharply criticized the Republican-led efforts, saying the politically charged legislation is based on myths and misinformation about trans youth rather than medicine.
A survey released earlier this month by The Trevor Project found ongoing Republican attacks on trans youth are already causing harm. Among LGBTQ youth sampled in the poll, a majority, 71%, said the debates and restrictive laws have negatively affected their mental health, and 29% of trans youth said they didn’t feel safe going to the doctor or a hospital when sick or injured.
Reeves had previously signed anti-trans legislation into law, a 2021 measure that banned transgender athletes from competing on girls’ or women’s sports teams.