AUGUSTA — The Maine House of Representatives voted 73-60 Monday for a bill that would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to receive gender-affirming hormone therapy without parental consent under certain conditions.

Under the bill, teens would be eligible to undergo treatment without parental consent if they are diagnosed with gender dysphoria, have received counseling by a licensed medical professional, and are experiencing harm because they are not receiving the therapy. Gender dysphoria is diagnosed when someone’s expressed gender identity is different from the gender assigned at birth for a sustained period of time.

The bill is among a handful of Democratic proposals designed to protect access to gender-affirming care in Maine. Such care is under attack from Republicans in other parts of the country who want to ban the practice and argue it is tantamount to child abuse or neglect.

The bill will now go to the Senate for debate and a vote later this week. It requires final enactment votes in both chambers before being considered by Gov. Janet Mills.

House Democrats supported the bill during a prolonged debate Monday, saying teens should have access to gender-affirming care under professional supervision and with appropriate counseling.

Rep. Marc Malon, D-Biddeford, said the benefits of gender-affirming care for dysphoric teens are well documented and that denying this care is “dangerous.” He argued that the danger is amplified for teens whose parents are unwilling to support their transition.


“For some kids, home is not happy, healthy or safe,” Malon said. “That is why I co-sponsored this bill.”

Rep. Erin Sheehan, D-Biddeford, sponsored the bill and cited the “unbearable” nature of gender dysphoria. Sheehan stressed that while the trans percentage of the population hovers between 0.5 and 1.5 percent, their experiences are “very real” and should not be overlooked as mere outliers.

Republicans argued against the bill, saying it interferes with the rights of parents while giving minors the power to undergo what some view as “irreversible” medical treatment.

“Sixteen-year-olds don’t make great decisions all the time,” said Rep. Lucas Lanigan, R-Sanford, noting that adolescents of that age are unable to rent R-rated films and purchase certain items from convenience stores.

Rep. Katrina Smith, R-Palermo, dismissed the need for gender-affirming care entirely, decrying the bill as “one of the most dangerous” presented this session. She argued that “a boy is a boy and a girl is a girl” and that “God does not make mistakes.”

Sheehan’s bill would allow minors to receive gender-affirming hormone therapy – not gender reassignment surgery – without parental consent if it’s deemed medically necessary by a health professional. Along with a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, a physician must determine that the minor is experiencing or will experience harm if care is not provided and the patient must be given objective information about the treatment and consequences. The health care provider would also have to tell the minor they may withdraw consent at any time and discuss the possibility of involving the minor’s parent or guardian.


Four years ago, Mills added coverage of gender-affirming care under the state’s Medicaid program.

In the Judiciary Committee, seven of the eight Democrats voted in favor of L.D. 535, including Sheehan. Four of the five Republicans opposed it.

For supporters of the bill, it is an important step toward making Maine a more safe and comfortable place for trans people to live.

“To all those struggling with dysphoria and all trans Mainers: Please know that you are loved and supported,” Malon said.

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