NKY legislator on ‘anti-trans’ bill: ‘I’m sorry for the actions of this body’

Mark Payne
Mark Payne
Mark Payne is the government and politics reporter for LINK nky. Email him at [email protected].

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The Kentucky legislature passed a bill that will place a sweeping ban on gender-affirming care for kids in Kentucky after the legislature snuck in language to another bill and then quickly passed it in an unannounced meeting before moving it through both chambers. 

The legislation — which has switched to multiple bill numbers and took a dizzying number of different forms in the last 24 hours — ended up jammed into Senate Bill 150, a bill that originally gave teachers the option to use the pronouns of transgender students’ choosing. 

The move to pass it started in the House when a surprise House Education meeting was called during lunch for Senate Bill 150 with newly added language similar to a law in South Dakota that bans puberty blockers, gender-affirming surgery, and cross-sex hormones. 

The bill was then rushed to the House floor, where a vote quickly took place, but not before Democrats spent nearly two hours trying to stall the bill. 

House Minority Whip Rachel Roberts (D-Newport) used a procedural tactic to get the bill off the floor by citing the constitution that a bill can’t contain more than one piece of subject matter. 

House Speaker David Osborne struck down similar amendments to fellow Republicans on similar grounds last night regarding additional amendments to a book bill. 

After meeting with the House Counsel and Floor leadership, Osborne said he wouldn’t carry the motion. 

“This bill is too much,” Roberts said. “It goes too far. It will hurt too many.”

She further said that while the state suffers from affordable housing issues — while some still live in FEMA trailers after the flooding in Eastern Kentucky — and the state suffers from a teacher shortage, the legislature focused on this type of legislation. 

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“I’m sorry for the shameful acts of this body,” Roberts said.

The “South Dakota” law idea was introduced Wednesday night in the Senate by Northern Kentucky Sen. Gex Williams (R-Verona) when he filed two amendments to House Bill 470 — the original legislation seeking to ban the use of hormones and surgery to be used for transgender services.

“South Dakota has passed essentially a two-page bill,” Williams said of the amendments, which wasn’t on the floor because it was filed too late. “We drafted ours, and it’s just a very straightforward, clean, without pejorative language.” 

On the Senate floor after voting yes on the passage of SB150, Williams said the bill was about love and concern from rising suicide rates over what he deemed to be issues with transgender people taking drugs to change their biological sex.

“When you introduce drugs, and you try to fight 30 or 40 trillion cells in your body, using drugs, the outcome is not going to be good,” Williams said.

The legislation drew passionate pleas from LGBTQ advocates when it appeared in the legislature. 

“I’m really upset for families right now,” said NKY Rep. Kim Banta (R-Fort Mitchell) after the bill passed the House committee. “I’m upset because I feel like we denigrated the medical profession. I feel like we’re making people feel less than and I don’t like that.”

The bill then moved to the Senate, where the slew of speakers that spoke in favor of the bill in the House also testified for House Bill 470. 

The bill’s opponents said that all the speakers came from out of state. Rep. Jennifer Decker (R-Waddy) noted that in-state speakers refrained from speaking for fear of losing their jobs. 

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Kelly Wagner — an Ohio resident — testified that she did not conform to gender norms and took to wearing men’s clothes in college, and believed she was born gay. 

“I struggled with many things, including fear, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and sometimes I battled with suicidal thoughts,” Wagner said, adding that she often talked of getting a breast reduction. 

Instead, she said she sought mental health care to address the root cause of the pain.

“I like to offer my body as a gift to my husband in our marriage,” Wagner said. 

Luka Hein — from Wisconsin — who testified during the House committee in person also testified to the Senate Family committee via video — she said she didn’t feel safe at the Kentucky Capitol after what happened during her last testimony, though she didn’t give details.

“I spiraled into a hatred of my body and myself, which ended in me truly believing that I was just a boy,” Hein said. “Professionals ignored my actual issues and instead affirmed me down a path of medicalization.”

Christopher Bolling, a retired Northern Kentucky pediatrician, testified that the committee shouldn’t pass the bill and lawmakers should instead listen to families and doctors from Kentucky. 

“If you choose to make House Bill 470 the law in Kentucky, you’re putting providers like us in an impossible situation,” Bolling said.

Chris Hartman, the executive director of the Fairness Campaign, gave passionate testified to the committee earlier this month and said the government has tried to criminalize the LGBTQ community and failed. 

“You did not stop us from forming our beautiful and perfect families when you denied us the right to marry and to adopt children, and you will not erase us today,” Hartman said. 

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As the Senate voted for final passage, cries from the gallery echoed throughout the chamber and cursed at the legislators. 

The bill will now move to the governor’s desk, where he’s likely to veto. Speaking in a press conference earlier Thursday, Beshear said that the decision for children should be in the hands of parents. 

“This is something parents talking to their children should be making and not big government stepping in and opposing its will,” Beshear said. 

If he vetoes, the legislature can override when it returns from the veto break on March 29. 

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