The Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill Saturday that would expand the state’s Medicaid program to include gender confirmation procedures for transgender, intersex, nonbinary, two-spirit and all other gender-diverse people.
The Transgender Health Care Equity ActHB0283, will play an important role in ensuring that low-income transgender Marylanders on Medicaid can access hormone therapy, puberty blockers, hair changes, facial and other body part surgeries along with several other affirming procedures of gender which are often covered by private insurance.
According to data from Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, 24,000 Marylanders are transgender and 6,000 are enrolled in Medicaid. In 2022, 98 transgender Marylanders received gender care through Medicaid.
But the state Medicaid program right now only covers some gender confirmation procedures, including mental health services, hormone replacement therapy, and gender reassignment surgery for patients 18 and older who meet specific qualifications. Meanwhile, gender-affirming care is usually covered by private insurance.
The legislation, a similar version of the one that failed last year, passed in the House final count vote 93-37. During committee meetings, several Democrats spoke of their support for the legislation, including Delegate Ann Kaiser, who sponsored the bill.
“We have no representation in this house from anyone from the trans community. So me and my 59 co-sponsors we are your voice. We are your dealership,” Kaiser said.
She continued: “We realize that what’s being said nationally … about trans people are the same lies that were being told about gays and lesbians 20 years ago, and that’s part of the reason I feel the passion and connection with our trans people brothers and sisters, our neighbors, our community.”
House Republicans proposed an amendment to the bill on Friday that would have prevented qualified individuals under 18 from being provided gender-affirming care, a move that covers attacks across the country for such life-saving health care for transgender youth.
“This is not about health. It’s about the male-to-female and female-to-male transition of children,” said Delegate Mark Fisher, the Republican who proposed the amendment, according to Flag of Baltimoresharing their concern that minors may receive operations such as vaginectomies, mastectomies, and penectomies.
But Delegate Bonnie Cullison, a Democrat, stressed that “it’s absolutely about health.” Cullison countered Fisher’s argument, adding that the surgeries he was concerned about would only be provided in extreme circumstances and when medically necessary and indicated for an individual’s health. The bill also states that all gender-affirming medical care will only be done after consultation between the parent, patient and medical professional.
Fisher’s proposed amendment to bar minors from receiving gender-affirming care failed 90-37, according to the Baltimore Banner. A second Republican-sponsored amendment aimed at preventing the gender confirmation of custodial minors without the consent of both parents failed in the House 91-36.
The legislation will now go to the Senate and, if passed, will be sent to Gov. Wes Moore, who previously expressed support for the legislation. The passage of the bill in the House comes amid the 426 anti-LGBTQ legislation sweeping the nation, from bans on drag shows to restrictions on gender-affirming care.