Kentucky governor vetoes bill targeting transgender youth

By Andrew Hay

(Reuters) – Kentucky’s Democratic governor on Friday vetoed a Republican bill to ban transgender youths from gender-affirming healthcare and restrict public toilets they use, bucking a national Republican-led movement.

Governor Andy Beshear, running in November for a second-term in Republican-leaning Kentucky, said the bill would increase youth suicides and permit excessive government interference in personal healthcare decisions.

Supporters of the bill said they were trying to protect children from undergoing gender-affirming treatments they would regret later in life.

The Kentucky bill would let teachers refuse to refer to transgender students by their chosen pronouns, outlaw gender reassignment surgery for minors, stop use of puberty blockers and prohibit gender-affirming hospital services.

The bill easily passed Kentucky’s Republican-led legislature and lawmakers may vote next week to override Beshear’s veto.

The bill is part of nationwide attacks on the LGBTQ community by conservative politicians with measures including banning discussion of gender identity in schools, clamping down on drag shows and blocking transgender participation in sports.

Over the past week Iowa and Georgia passed bills banning gender-affirming care for transgender minors and preventing trans students from using school toilets corresponding with their gender identities.

In Kentucky, Beshear said in a statement that the bill would turn teachers into “investigators” prying into students’ lives. The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky said it would challenge the legislation in court if it became law.

(Reporting by Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico; Editing by Donna Bryson; Editing by Sandra Maler)