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Kentucky Legislature overrides Beshear veto and passes anti-transgender law

Democratic Sen. Karen Berg was among those who opposed overriding the veto of Senate Bill 150. Her son Henry Berg-Brousseau, who was trans, died by suicide last year.
Kentucky Legislative Research Commission
Democratic Sen. Karen Berg was among those who opposed overriding the veto of Senate Bill 150. Her son Henry Berg-Brousseau, who was trans, died by suicide last year.

This story mentions suicide and mental health issues. If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, you can reach the national Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by phone at 988, or online at https://988lifeline.org/.

If you’re looking for transgender peer support, you can call Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 or online at translifeline.org. You can also contact the Trevor Project, which provides free, confidential counselors who specialize in helping LGBTQ youth. And here’s a list of local resources for LGBTQ youth.

The Kentucky Legislature voted Wednesday to override Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto and enact a law that bans gender-affirming medical care for transgender kids.

Senate Bill 150 also imposes rules on public schools that negatively affect trans students, including restricting which bathrooms those students can use and allowing teachers to misgender them.

The school-related parts of the bill are set to take effect immediately, but the ban on gender-affirming medical care – including hormone therapy – for trans minors isn’t slated to take effect until later this summer.

The Republican-dominated legislature voted to override Beshear’s vetoes a few hours after hundreds of students and allies formed in front of the Kentucky Capitol to show their support for trans rights.

Students organized the rally themselves, and kids spoke up during the gathering about why SB 150 will endanger them and their friends.

“My own government is working against me,” a 17-year-old named June told the crowd. “They are working against all of us.”

Some people who support trans rights also spent time in the halls of the Capitol as the Senate and House voted on overriding Beshear’s veto.

Their chants could be heard during both votes.

The Senate nixed Beshear’s veto first, in a 29-8 vote. Only one Republican, Sen. Danny Carroll of Benton, voted with Democrats to oppose SB 150.

The House proceedings after that got especially tense.

People in the gallery, which overlooks the floor of the chamber, locked arms as they voiced their opposition to SB 150 and chanted, “Trans rights are human rights.”

Kentucky State Police physically forced them to leave.

The House went on to vote 76-23 to override Beshear’s veto. Only four Republicans – Reps. Kim Banta, Stephanie Dietz, Kimberly Moser and Killian Timoney – voted to block SB 150 from becoming law. One Democrat, Rep. Ashley Tackett Laferty, voted to let the bill take effect.

That was the last vote necessary to make SB 150 law. But the ACLU of Kentucky quickly signaled that a lawsuit challenging the measure is imminent.

“To all the trans youth who may be affected by this legislation: We stand by you, and we will not stop fighting,” the ACLU said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “To the commonwealth: We will see you in court.”

Copyright 2023 Louisville Public Media. To see more, visit Louisville Public Media.

Morgan is WFPL's health reporter. Email Morgan at mwatkins@lpm.org.
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