Muckraker: Fisher, House Republicans resist Trans Health Equity Act: ‘This is about children’
This article brought to you by Maryland Muckraker.
On Saturday, Democrats in the House of Delegates approved HB0283, the Trans Health Equity Act, which would expand the gender-affirming treatments (ie. sex change procedures) covered by Medicaid in Maryland, while simultaneously removing the existing stipulation that patients be over the age of 18.
Medicaid for adults in Maryland already covers psychotherapy for gender dysphoria, continuous hormone replacement therapy, and gender reassignment surgery. This bill would make minors eligible to have those “treatments” covered, in addition to puberty blockers, voice modification surgery, and alterations to the abdomen, trunk, buttocks, and neck, so long as those minors have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria and their parents consent to the “treatment”, among other criteria.
Concerned about the well-being of the low-income children who would be affected by this bill, Calvert County Republican Delegate Mark Fisher proposed retaining the stipulation that coverage be extended only to those over the age of 18, but his amendment accordingly was “considered, and rejected” per one of the Trans Health Equity Act’s sponsors, Montgomery County Democrat Bonnie Cullison.
When Fisher asked Cullison on the House floor during a testy exchange whether or not a penectomy, a surgery to remove all or part of the penis, could be reversed, Cullison confirmed that yes, a penectomy can be reversed: “Surgeons currently reconstruct penises all the time for folks who identify as male and want to have that organ, or if it was damaged in some way, so yes it is possible”.
Continuing to defend the legislation, Cullison cited all the local and national organizations that support it, including Planned Parenthood, Healthcare for the Homeless, the Johns Hopkins University Gertrude Stein Society, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the American Medical Association, who to this day says on their website that “public masking” is an effective measure to “contain the spread of [COVID-19]”.
Most private insurers already provide coverage for a range of gender-affirming treatments. In July of 2022, Johns Hopkins University and Medicine, together one of the largest employers in Baltimore and the State of Maryland, announced that their employee health insurance plans would expand coverage for gender-affirming treatments, similarly including voice therapy and facial reconstructive surgery. As of 2022, the institution said in a press release they’ve completed more than 600 gender-affirming surgeries.
All of this comes as State Schools Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury continues to lobby in support of HB0119, which would force all local school systems to introduce the concept of gender identity and sexual orientation to public school children as early as kindergarten. Jurisdictions that refuse the order will be penalized by having their state funding reduced by as much as 20% until they comply.
In response, the Concerned Parents of Carroll County, a conservative parents group advocating for local curriculum autonomy, have started a petition to oust Choudhury. The petition has 1,830 signatures at the time of this writing.
At the end of last year, The Daily Caller reported that Montgomery County Schools saw a 582% increase in students reporting gender non-conformity in just a two year span.
Grand View Research forecasts that the gender-affirming healthcare market will eclipse $5B by 2030, with Maryland, one of the bluest states in the country with leading healthcare organizations, positioned to become a leader in the emerging market.
Just before the bill passed in the House, Fisher confirmed that “this bill is about children”. “Imagine a state where bills would pass requiring gender identity ideology to be taught in kindergarten. Imagine a state where children in elementary school are taught that pronouns are fluid” he said. “Then imagine a state where miraculously there is a significant increase in diagnosed gender dysphoria as a result of the former curriculum that has been implemented and passed by this body”.
He concluded, saying he believes the bill amounts to “child mutilation”, before wondering aloud if Aldous Huxley would be proud of the Brave New World Democrats in the General Assembly are creating in Maryland.