INDIANAPOLIS — Lawmakers in the Indiana House got a second look at a proposed law that would ban gender transition procedures for Hoosier kids under 18.
Senate Bill 480 passed out of the Indiana Senate earlier this session. And earlier this week, lawmakers on the House’s Public Health Committee voted to send the bill to the House floor.
That’s where Thursday, Democratic Representative Robin Shackleford proposed four amendments to the bill.
An overwhelming majority voted down all those amendments.
For one Hoosier mom, it was a civics lesson for which she wasn’t ready.
“I don’t even have a trans child,” said Sarah Ruh.
The West Lafayette mom has friends that do. So she took notice Thursday morning when Senate Bill 480 came up for discussion in the Indiana House for the second time this week.
The West Lafayette mom was sitting in the House gallery, after bringing her 14-year-old daughter to the Statehouse for the day to volunteer as a page on the House floor.
“She’s been getting more interested in politics,” Ruh explained.
It was this mother though who got the lesson, watching proposed amendments to SB 480 fail, one right after the other.
Among them, a proposal brought by Representative Shackleford to allow transgender kids already taking hormones or puberty blockers to keep taking them.
If SB 480 becomes law, those same kids would have to stop by the end of 2023.
“We had several doctors come up and say that we should be the one making the call in giving these drugs and therapies out,” Shackleford said.
She also proposed giving parents the right to sue the state if some harm comes to their transgender child because they’re forced to stop taking hormones and puberty blockers if SB 480 becomes law.
That amendment also failed.
“It is critical that we offer help to these children, but the help currently being given is not helpful. Why should the state be culpable for unproven irreversible treatments that are causing harm to minors?” asked Republican Representative Joanna King who sponsored SB 480 in the House.
Someone sitting in the balcony watching the proceedings shouted, “You Lie!” while Representative King was speaking on the amendment.
“We’re not here to decide on medical issues and if we’re wrong, we as a state should pay,” said Democratic Representative Ed DeLaney, who called out fellow lawmakers for not speaking on the proposed law or amendments.
“What is with all the silence in this place?” asked Representative DeLaney.
“Is Robin Shackleford the only one who cares about this issue? The silence is deafening. It’s embarrassing,” he continued.
To Sarah Ruh, it was more than that.
“To see how many people, it’s going to hurt to not pass those amendments and then to just, barely a thought and then all those nays went up on the screen, it’s just,” said Ruh, sighing as she struggled to find the right words.
Lawmakers who support Senate Bill 480 say it’s about protecting kids from a decision they may regret later in life.
Representative Joanna King referenced testimony earlier in the week from people who said they regretted taking hormones in their teens to help them transition later.
“In testimony, we heard so many people talk about the harm that this process has left on them,” said King.
“This bill will protect children from that harm. The state has the duty to protect children from harm, it is good policy,” she added.