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The Mountain West News Bureau is a collaboration between Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, KUNR in Nevada, Nevada Public Radio, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana and Wyoming Public Media, with support from affiliate stations across the region.

Wyoming’s ban on gender-affirming care for minors goes into effect

Two pink, blue and white flags blow in the wind with greenery in the background.
Robyn Beck
AFP via Getty Images
Transgender pride flags blow in the wind. As of the start of July, Wyoming youth looking to undergo gender transition won't have access to treatment in the state.

Wyoming’s ban on gender-affirming care went into effect July 1, restricting medical treatment like puberty blockers and hormone therapy for transgender youth.

The Equality State is one of 25 states to pass such a law — part of a flurry of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation introduced in recent years.

Supporters of the Wyoming ban, like bill sponsor state Sen. Anthony Bouchard (R-Cheyenne), say minors are making choices they may later regret.

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“I think children just weren’t ready to make those kinds of decisions,” Bouchard said. “Those are lifelong decisions, lifelong healthcare.”

But major medical associations say that this kind of care can reduce feelings of depression among trans youth.

Julie Burkhart runs Wellspring Health Access in Casper, which provides this type of treatment to a handful of minors. She said this population will seek care despite the new law, but there will be more obstacles in their way.

“It's going to potentially displace families where they feel like they have to move to a state where their child can get this adequate health care,” Burkhart said.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently announced it will consider the constitutionality of these kinds of state laws in its next term, with arguments kicking off in the fall.

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That decision could impact bans in Wyoming, Idaho, Utah and Montana.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed Idaho’s law to go into effect, except in the case of two anonymous plaintiffs. In Montana, a state judge has temporarily blocked the gender-affirming care ban, after advocates sued.

Burkhart said she and others are “looking at options” to sue in Wyoming to block the ban, but they haven’t filed anything yet.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio (KNPR) in Las Vegas, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Hanna is the Mountain West News Bureau reporter based in Teton County.