A bill that would ban all gender-affirming health care for minors advanced Wednesday out of an Indiana Senate committee.

Authored by area Sen. Tyler Johnson, R-Leo-Cedarville, Senate Bill 480 is Indiana’s entry into a wave of bills targeting health care for transgender youth. According to the American College of Physicians, Arkansas in 2021 became the first state to implement such a ban, and other states have since followed.

Dr. Johnson’s bill would prohibit doctors from providing gender-affirming care for transgender minors, including puberty blockers, hormone therapy and gender-confirmation surgery. It gives minors currently using blockers or hormones six months – until the end of the year – to “transition off” those medications, Johnson said.

SB 480 would allow parents to sue doctors they believe violate the law and allow recipients of such care to sue until they turn 28. The attorney general would also be allowed to investigate and charge doctors under the bill.

Early gender-affirming care is crucial for the health and well-being of transgender and nonbinary children and adolescents, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. However, Johnson called the procedures “unproven.” He acknowledged that those with gender dysphoria have higher rates of suicide but said it’s “likely due to underlying co-morbidities and mental health concerns.”

“A child cannot understand the weight and permanency of the decisions,” he said of taking puberty blockers or hormone therapy. “That is obvious. How can a child understand the ramifications of this on the rest of their life?”

Several Indiana doctors spoke against SB 480, including Dr. Rachel Katzenellenbogen, a physician at an Indianapolis children’s hospital that offers gender-affirming care. She said the clinic does not perform gender-confirmation surgery on patients younger than 18, and no decisions are made without adult consent.

Doctors representing the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Indiana State Medical Association also spoke against the bill, and one noted that many major medical organizations support gender-affirming care.

A few trans teenagers testified against the bill as well. Killian Provence, 16, said SB 480 would “forcibly de-transition” trans Hoosier youth.

Supporters of the bill included some who said they de-transitioned, although none of their surgeries took place in Indiana and all but one underwent gender-confirmation surgery as adults. Prisha Mosley said she received a mastectomy at age 18 in North Carolina and told lawmakers her parents were lied to and manipulated by doctors.

The Health and Provider Services Committee voted largely along party lines to approve the bill 8-3. Sen. Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville, joined two Democrats in opposition.

Wednesday’s committee hearing is just the first step for SB 480. Johnson’s bill will now head to the full Senate. If passed, it would then head to the House.

Statehouse and General Assignment Reporter

Brett Stover is a Reporter covering the Indiana Statehouse and general assignments for The Journal Gazette. A University of Missouri graduate, Stover has covered news in Indiana since 2021.