A new bill introduced by U.S. House Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) would punish healthcare providers with up to 25 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for treating trans minors in need of gender-affirming care.
The QAnon Congresswoman introduced her Protect Children’s Innocence Act to Congress on August 19, which would ban gender-affirming medical care for trans people under the age of 18 on a federal level, according to its text. The legislation would also forbid doctors from offering a range of treatments, including prescribing puberty blockers or hormone replacement therapy and performing gender-confirming surgeries on trans youth.
Greene’s bill would zero in on healthcare providers rather than patients, echoing the tactics of Texas’ abortion trigger ban passed in 2021. According to the legislation, a provider who “knowingly performs any gender-affirming care on a minor is guilty of a class C felony.” If passed, the minimum prison sentence would be 10 years behind bars.
Fourteen Republicans have already signed on as supporters of the bill, including fellow House Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).
A day after announcing the proposed law, Greene minced no words during an appearance on the Fox News program Tucker Carlson Tonight, calling gender-affirming care a form of “child abuse” and an “embarrassment to our country.” “This practice should never happen,” she said of gender-affirming medical treatments. “It’s so disgusting and appalling.”
Bills like Greene’s have spread deliberate misinformation about trans healthcare, according to a May report released by Yale University’s School of Medicine. The study said anti-trans bills in states like Alabama and Texas utilized unsupported statements as facts—including the claim that those under 18 who receive gender-affirming surgery are frequently sterilized and that non-surgical treatments like puberty blockers can cause irreparable harm to patients.
Despite being full of false, unsubstantiated claims, Alabama’s bill was signed into law in April, mandating up to 10 years in prison for administering gender-affirming care. The Texas bill did not pass, but has served as the foundation for Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s persecution of families with trans children. In February, he ordered state child welfare agents to investigate parents who allow their kids to transition.
For many, Greene spearheading a federal gender-affirming care ban is unsurprising, given her history of transphobia. In the past, she has misgendered and harassed Dr. Rachel Levine, the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health, for being an out trans woman and derided Rep. Marie Newman (D-Ill.), whose daughter is trans, after her House colleague put up a Trans Pride flag outside her office in support of the Equality Rights Act in February 2021.
Greene’s bill is part of an alarming anti-LGBTQ2S+ backlash in the United States. Over 300 bills targeting queer and trans Americans have been introduced in at least 23 states this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Many of these proposals are designed to single out trans youth in particular, ranging from sports bans to denials of gender-affirming healthcare.
These bills also coincide with a rise in targeted hate crimes against trans people. Per HRC’s anti-trans violence tracker, over 200 acts of violence committed against trans Americans since 2013 have ended in death. Approximately 26 trans people, most of them trans women of colour, have been killed in the U.S. this year.
While Greene is largely a fringe, far-right figure in Congress, her bill could gain mainstream support if Republicans win back both houses of the federal legislature in the midterms. Currently, FiveThirtyEight gives Democrats 64 percent odds of holding on to the Senate, but the odds look grimmer in the House, where Greene has introduced the bill. The site projects Republicans that will take the lower chambers of Congress, giving them a 74 percent chance of a House majority after November.
Greene herself is slated to win her reelection by a landslide.