Tom Cotton, Jim Banks Unveil Bill to Make Medical Providers Liable for Minor Gender-Transition Damages

Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) and the Republican Study Committee, a House caucus led by Representative Jim Banks (R., Ind.), announced on Wednesday that they would be introducing the Protecting Minors from Medical Malpractice Act in both chambers of Congress this session.

The bill responds to growing concerns over the use of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgical procedures to alter minors’ physiology and outward appearance. Once signed into law, the bill would allow victims and legal guardians to sue surgeons who perform gender-transition surgeries on minors — or doctors who prescribe them hormone treatments — up to 30 years after the subjects reach the age of majority.

Other provisions would clarify “that federal law cannot be construed to force medical practitioners to offer such procedures” and prevent “federal health funds from going to states that force medical practitioners to perform gender-transition procedures.”

Cotton and Banks’s legislation — which is also being shepherded by Representative Doug LaMalfa (R., Calif.) — is at odds with recent guidance from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) and a new executive order from President Joe Biden.

Earlier this month, WPATH changed its standards to allow for hormone treatments for minors to begin at the age of 14 and recommended that surgeries be performed beginning between the ages of 15 and 17. Previously, WPATH had recommended that hormone treatments be withheld until two years later, and surgical remedies be withheld for at least one more year.

Biden signed an executive order to expand access to the treatments and procedures outlined in the Protecting Minors from Medical Malpractice Act earlier this month. In it, Biden asked his Department of Health and Human Services to prevent federal funds from going to institutions that offer what the executive order described as “conversion therapy,” “expand support for services to help survivors,” and direct resources toward “safeguard[ing] access to health care.”

Critics of the Biden administration’s tack on the issue include the Heritage Foundation’s Jay Greene, who claims that transition-related treatments do little to help, and oftentimes do harm to minors’ mental health. He’s characterized the approach of Biden and other progressives as “emotional blackmail,” with little substantive backing.

In a statement describing the need for his legislation, Banks argued that the Biden administration had “released official guidance recommending irreversible and life-altering surgery for minors too young to apply for a learner’s permit,” and predicted that “ten years from now, there will be hundreds of thousands of Americans who were permanently scarred by the radical left’s agenda before they reached adulthood.”

Cotton asserted that “gender-transition procedures aren’t safe or appropriate for children.”

“Unfortunately, radical doctors in the United States perform dangerous, experimental, and even sterilizing gender-transition procedures on young kids, who cannot even provide informed consent,” he continued. “Any doctor who performs these irresponsible procedures on kids should pay.”

So-called “gender-affirming” treatments for minors have been linked to negative health outcomes later in life. Artificially lowering male testosterone levels before or during puberty can result in lower bone density in adulthood and gender-transition surgeries can leave subjects sterile and unable to experience sexual pleasure.

Reporting from National Review.