RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Republican State Senator Amanda Chase is calling for a total ban on transition-related medical care for minors in Virginia, modeled on a policy introduced last year in Arkansas.
According to Chase (R – Colonial heights), her bill would ban “puberty suppressants, hormones and surgical interventions” for transgender minors.
“I’ve actually been in contact with the legislator in Arkansas who passed this bill,” Chase told 8News in an interview. She added that her “Save Adolescents From Experimentation” Act could change significantly depending on the outcome of a lawsuit challenging Arkansas’ law in federal court.
Bo Belotti, head of the Virginia Chapter of the Trans radical activist Network, said these kinds of restrictions would be disastrous for trans youth.
“Not only would this put trans kids in emotional dysregulation, but physical danger as well,” they said. Belotti pointed out that some trans youth are “stealth” — in other words, their trans identity isn’t known to classmates or teachers. “By medically detransitioning them, you’re outing them as trans.”
Across the Plains
Arguments in Brandt v. Rutledge, the case challenging Arkansas’ law, will resume in late November, with the court expected to rule after the testimony is concluded. But a decision by a federal judge blocking the law from going into effect may show which direction the court is leaning.
Both Senator Chase and proponents of the Arkansas bill have called youth transition “experimental” and cast doubt on the persistence of trans identification among minors.
In an interview with WRVA’s John Reid earlier this year, Chase said, “We’re talking about the puberty blockers, we’re talking about permanent surgeries — it’s all experimental, it’s all unproven, and it’s expensive.”
But Judge Jane Kelly seemed poised to reject that argument.
“There is substantial evidence to support the district court’s conclusion that the Act prohibits medical treatment that conforms with the recognized standard of care,” Judge Kelly wrote. “Even international bodies that consider hormone treatment for adolescents to be “experimental” have not banned the care covered by Act 626.”
“Plaintiffs have demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of their equal protection claim,” she added.
While Chase claimed in a Nov. 1 campaign email that she had already introduced her legislation, the General Assembly’s system shows that no such bill has been pre-filed as of Nov. 3.
What the Science Says
In an interview with 8News, Senator Chase cited statistics that she said showed both the ineffectiveness of gender transition in improving well-being and the high likelihood of regret for those who begin treatment with puberty blockers or hormones.
Chase claimed that between 80 and 90 percent of youth who transition eventually give up or “desist” in their transition, and said that those who undergo transition actually see an increase in their suicidality. Chase mentioned a statistic of 40%, but it was unclear whether she believed this was the rate of suicide among trans youth or the increase for those who undergo transition.
8News followed up with Senator Chase to request the sources she drew from, but received no response.
However, Chase’s claims are broadly contradicted by the scientific literature on youth transition.
A Dutch study published last month found that 98% of youth who began hormones in their teen years were still using them as adults. The study did not find that the remaining two percent had actually “detransitioned,” although that was one possible explanation for the lack of continuing hormone prescription through the Dutch medical system.
Another American study found that five years after an initial social transition (that is, a transition involving a new name or appearance, but not necessarily medical intervention) 2.5% of children who had once identified as transgender now identified as cisgender.
That study surveyed 317 youth, of whom eight had detransitioned. Of those eight, only one had undergone any medical intervention — and that study participant had only started puberty blockers, not hormones.
Another study found that treatments such as puberty blockers and hormone therapy lead to “modest improvements in mental health functioning” for transgender youth. Data also suggests that familial and community rejection contribute to suicidality and other mental health issues among trans youth.
If Chase does bring her bill forward during next year’s General Assembly session, it’s unlikely to make it past the Democratic majority in the Senate. Still, she said it was vital that the state institute a ban on the treatments.
Chase also implied that parents who allow their children to undergo medical transition were mentally unwell.
“We have to protect minors, regardless of the mental state of the parents,” she said. “This is child abuse.”
Belotti said they hope this bill is a wake-up call to legislators.
“We should go further than blocking this bill,” they said, calling for Virginia to become a sanctuary for trans youth and their families fleeing bans in other states.
But while some Democrats have increasingly spoken out in favor of protections for trans youth in the wake of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s new proposed policy on trans students, Belotti said the Democratic Party still has a long way to go as well.
“In a lot of ways, the Democratic Party is just behind on social issues, and it’ll take a while for them to catch up.”