Mississippi lawmakers have introduced bills targeting education and healthcare rights of LGBTQ+ Mississippians this session.
Of the bills being introduced, HB 1125 is the closest to being passed. Also known as the “Regulate Experimental Adolescent Procedures Act” (REAP), HB 1125 is a civil ban on gender-affirming care for people under the age of 18.
In his 2023 State of the State Address, Gov. Tate Reeves said bills like these are designed to protect children.
“We don’t let 11-year-olds enter an R-rated movie alone, yet some would have us believe that we should push permanent body-altering surgeries on them at such a young age,” Reeves said. “We must take every step to preserve the innocence of our children, especially against the cruel forces of modern progressivism which seek to use them as guinea pigs in their sick social experiments.”
Raney-Gray, an LGBTQ Justice Project staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi, said that through censorship and limited teachings various bills are forcing the political beliefs of a small group of people onto all parents.
“Although the bills attack various civil rights and civil liberties of members of the Mississippi LGBTQ+ community, many of the bills are anti-trans –– focused on denying gender-affirming care and penalizing parents, guardians and healthcare providers for supporting transgender youth,” McKenna Raney-Gray said.
Sebastian Prisock, a transgender sophomore at Ole Miss, said this bill is a direct threat.
“If someone under 18 is on puberty blockers, they will be forced off of them, which means that they don’t even have the harmless choice to put it on hold until they can decide to start HRT hormone replacement therapy),” Prisock said. “For those of us that are over 18, this bill is just a couple of steps away from something more that includes us. You see it happening in other states, whether it be 19 or 21 or 26 or entirely. They don’t want to stop at 18, they don’t want us to exist as we are at all.”
Currently, the ACLU is tracking 269 anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the U.S. Even though many of the bills won’t make it out of committee, they may cause harm to LGBTQ+ people.
“They know who their voters are and what they are consuming. They don’t actually care about the people, they are just interested in forcing their ideas about the world onto as many people as possible,” Prisock said.
On Feb. 2, several human rights organizations hosted a virtual community town hall meeting to discuss HB 1125. The organizations present included ACLU of Mississippi, Campaign for Southern Equality, Human Rights Campaign of Mississippi, Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Center for Transgender Equality.
While on the call, Raney-Gray said the bill would prohibit Mississippi doctors from performing gender-affirming procedures, including hormone replacement therapy, puberty blockers and surgeries. HB 1125 is a ban on medical care and medical transitioning, not on social transitioning. The bill was passed by the Senate committee on Jan. 31.