Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) on Tuesday gave final approval to legislation that bars medical professionals from providing gender-affirming health care to transgender minors.
The state’s Regulate Experimental Adolescent Procedures (REAP) Act, effective immediately, prohibits individuals in Mississippi from knowingly engaging in conduct that “aids or abets” the provision of gender-affirming medical care to a minor.
Penalties for violating the law, however, apply only to health care providers, who face having their medical or professional licenses revoked if they are found to have performed gender-affirming surgeries or prescribed medications including puberty blockers and hormones to a minor.
The measure also allows for health care providers to be sued by their former patients within a 30-year statute of limitations.
“There is a dangerous movement spreading across America today. It’s advancing under the guise of a false ideology and pseudo-science is being pushed on to our children through radical activists, social media and online influencers,” Reeves said Tuesday during a signing ceremony, referring to “rapid onset gender dysphoria,” a debunked theory that claims young people identify as transgender due to “social contagion.”
“This dangerous movement attempts to convince these children that they’re just a surgery away from happiness,” Reeves said.
The governor later accused medical professionals and LGBTQ activists of twisting scientific studies and reporting findings out of context.
“So today, let me be clear in a world that’s upside down, when it comes to doing right by our kids, Mississippi will once again fight to keep our state right side up,” Reeves said.
Proponents of the measure — and others like it — have long claimed that restricting access to gender-affirming health care, especially for minors, has nothing to do with hate or discrimination, as lawsuits challenging similar legislation in states including Arkansas and Alabama have argued.
“We love people,” Mississippi state Sen. Joey Fillingane (R), who handled the bill’s floor passage in the Senate, said last week. “We don’t hate people. We want people to be well and healthy … But these are unnatural things taking place in our state.”
Gender-affirming health care — for both transgender youths and adults — is considered safe, effective and medically necessary by most major medical organizations, including the American Medical Association (AMA) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
The AMA in 2021 denounced government efforts to insert politics into medicine, issuing a statement that it unequivocally opposes the “criminalization of health care decision-making.”
Mississippi’s REAP Act will also prohibit insurers or Medicaid from reimbursing families for gender-affirming health care if that care was supplied to a minor. Doctors who provide gender-affirming care under the new law will be stripped of the state’s tort claims protections.
In a statement on Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and its Mississippi affiliate called Reeves’s approval of the measure “heartbreaking.”
“This care was already difficult to access across the state for transgender people of any age, but this law shuts the door on best-practice medical care and puts politics between parents, their children, and their doctors,” the organizations said.
“Our politicians continue to fail trans youth, so it is up to each and every one of us to rise against their fear and ignorance and surround these young people with strength, safety, and love.”
“Gender transition procedures,” according to the legislation, do not include services provided to individuals with diagnosed sexual development disorders or treatments given to remedy infections, injuries, diseases or disorders that arose from the previous receipt of gender-affirming care.
Mississippi is the sixth state in the nation to adopt a law banning gender-affirming medical care in its entirety for transgender youths — and the third to have done so this year.
Other states, like Arizona, have enacted partial bans. While Oklahoma, Texas and Tennessee have taken steps to restrict access to gender-affirming services for minors, state law does not explicitly bar health care professionals from providing gender-affirming care.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) on Monday said he would sign legislation passed last week by the legislature to bar minors from receiving gender-affirming health care. Lee said he also plans to approve the nation’s first law criminalizing drag performances in public and in front of children.