Arizona Governor Vetoes Bill To Support Transgender Patients Who Wish To Detransition

The bill, proposed by Janae Shamp of the Arizona senate, would have required healthcare professionals to cover the costs of care for patients who choose to detransition.

AP/Ross D. Franklin, file
Arizona's Democratic governor, Katie Hobbs, delivers the state of the state address at the Arizona capitol. AP/Ross D. Franklin, file

Arizona’s governor, Katie Hobbs, has vetoed a bill that would have required any doctor who provides so-called gender-affirming care to cover the medical costs for patients who later choose to detransition. The bill also would have applied to insurance companies and health care institutions. 

In her veto, Ms. Hobbs cited the bill as “unnecessary” and one that “would create a privacy risk for patients.” 

The bill was proposed in February by a Republican state senator, Janae Shamp, in an effort to protect those who undergo gender-transitioning procedures and later regret their decisions.

Ms. Shamp, whose political campaign centers around her background as a nurse, cited her medical experience as a major motivation behind providing patients with the option to detransition. 

“We can’t not take care of patients. This is health care. These are individuals who are going through something that is very difficult and then they are getting dropped off when they don’t follow along with the political ideology, and that is absolutely wrong,” she said in the bill’s proposal. 

Not surprisingly, Ms. Shamp responded disapprovingly to Ms. Hobb’s veto. 

“If doctors are going to block the natural puberty process of children and surgically alter the genitalia of people struggling with gender dysphoria, they must be prepared to undo the damage — as much as possible,” she stated, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

Given that the bill passed both the state house and senate by narrow margins, it is unlikely that the measure’s proponents will secure the two-thirds majority vote needed to override the governor’s veto. 

When it was proposed, the bill drew criticism from members of the LGBTQ community, who argued that the proposal overplays the prevalence of detransitioning. One LGBTQ advocate, Christiana Hammond, described the legislation as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” that actually serves to delegitimize gender transitions. 

A senior director of legal policy for the Human Rights Campaign, Cathryn Oakley, in a statement to the Arizona Mirror, denounced the bill as “an unnecessary and gratuitous excuse to talk about detransition in an effort to shift the focus from the actual health care that transgender people receive,” adding that the bill targets “a very small number of folks.”  

While transgender advocates have historically cited a detransition rate of 1 percent or lower, recent studies suggest that the number may be higher than originally thought, and may be on the rise. 

Given that the previous analysis was based on data collected between 1960 and 2015, research based on more recent numbers places the range between 2 percent and 10 percent, a significant increase from the popularly cited 1 percent figure. 

“There is reason to believe that the numbers of detransitioners may increase,” a transgender health specialist, Michael Irwig, argues. “It is quite possible that low reported rates of detransition and regret in previous populations will no longer apply to current populations,” he wrote in an article for the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Issues related to transgender health have been a focus of Republicans in recent years, particularly in their effort to curb gender-affirming procedures on children. Arizona Republicans passed such a ban in 2022, and at least 22 states have implemented similar restrictions.

The New York Sun

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