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Maine expands ability of older teens to receive gender-affirming care without parents' consent

FILE - Hunter Schafer, of Raleigh, holds a sign supporting transgender youth during a special session of the North Carolina General Assembly in Raleigh, N.C., Dec. 21, 2016.
Ben McKeown
/
AP
FILE - Hunter Schafer, of Raleigh, holds a sign supporting transgender youth during a special session of the North Carolina General Assembly in Raleigh, N.C., Dec. 21, 2016.

Transgender 16- and 17-year-olds in Maine can now, in certain situations, receive gender-affirming hormone therapy without a parent's consent.

Gov. Janet Mills signed the law on Tuesday, which will allow older teens to receive gender-affirming care if they have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, have received counseling, are experiencing harm from not receiving care, and have parents that refuse to support treatment.

The patient must also receive counseling on the benefits and potential consequences of hormone therapy.

The measure faced opposition from several Republican legislators, who said it would infringe on parents’ rights. But EqualityMaine Executive Director Gia Drew says that if a transgender teen is required to wait, it can cause further harm later on.

"So if a young person, 16 or 17, does not need that medical care, it does prevent more complicated things later in life," Drew says.

The bill's passage comes as several other states have taken steps to limit or ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth.

"I'm hopeful that this sends a positive message to the community that LGBTQ people are loved, by most Mainers, and we'll continue to fight for your rights and human dignity, as well," says Drew.