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19 Protesters Arrested as Kentucky Republicans Override Veto of Anti-Trans Bill

“Trans kids are under attack,” protesters chanted during debate on the bill. “What do we do? Stand up fight back!”

Teens from various areas of Kentucky gather in front of the Kentucky Capitol Annex building on March 29, 2023, to protest against SB150, which would ban gender-affirming health care for transgender teens.

Republican lawmakers in Kentucky have overridden a veto from Gov. Andy Beshear (D) to pass a bill targeting trans children that LGBTQ advocates have described as one of the worst pieces of anti-trans legislation in the country.

Republicans, who have supermajorities in both houses of the Kentucky legislature, overrode the veto of Senate Bill 150 on Wednesday. The Senate passed the override by a vote of 29-8, while the House vote was 76-23, mostly along party lines.

Hundreds of protesters for LGBTQ rights rallied outside the capitol prior to the vote before moving inside for debate on the bill.

“Trans kids are under attack,” they chanted from the gallery. “What do we do? Stand up fight back!”

Nineteen protesters were arrested and charged with criminal trespassing. Video of the day’s events shows police officers zip-tying protesters’ hands together and forcibly removing them from the chamber as Kentucky Rep. Pam Stevenson (D) gave an impassioned rebuke of her Republican colleagues.

“[The bill] goes for the jugular, to kill, annihilate, and make sure that a whole group of people…have no rights,” she said in her speech on the House floor.

Senate Bill 150 — which immediately became law upon the override of the veto — bans trans students from using restrooms or other school facilities that correspond with their gender. It allows teachers and students to misgender trans students, and bars schools from creating policies against anti-trans bullying. It also bars educators from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity at any grade level — restrictions that go even further than Florida’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law.

Other provisions of the law deny children the ability to access safe and medically-approved gender-affirming care, and force doctors to create timelines to “detransition” patients who have already started treatment.

In his veto of the bill last week, Behear said that the legislation would “endanger the children of Kentucky.”

“Improving access to gender-affirming care is an important means of improving health outcomes for the transgender population,” the governor wrote. “Senate Bill 150 will cause an increase in suicide among Kentucky’s youth.”

Polling indicates that the vast majority of Kentucky residents were opposed to passage of the bill, with a recent survey showing that 71 percent didn’t want it to become law.

Hundreds of trans students were among those protesting the bill during the session to override Beshear’s veto. One trans teenager, who held a sign saying, “Our blood is on your hands,” told The Associated Press that “trans kids will die” if the legislation was passed.

Trans journalist Erin Reed, who covers legislative attacks on LGBTQ people across the country, has also warned that the ban on gender-affirming care will endanger the lives of trans children:

Gender-affirming care saves lives. It is associated with a 73% reduction in youth suicidality and a 40% reduction in recent suicide attempts. The additional ways in which the bill targets trans people beyond banning care will only serve to harm these trans youth even more.

Multiple organizations vowed to sue the state over the passage of the bill.

“To all trans youth who may be affected by this cruel ban: We are with you,” the American Civil Liberties Union wrote in a tweet. “Kentucky: We’ll see you in court.”
“While we lost the battle in the legislature, our defeat is temporary. We will not lose in court,” promised Chris Hartman, executive director of the Fairness Campaign.

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