Colorado Democrats over the weekend advanced a bill cosponsored by a transgender representative that would make their state a safe haven for teenagers seeking sex changes.
The Colorado House of Representatives on Saturday passed SB 188, which would require the state’s courts and medical licensing boards to protect doctors who dispense hormones and perform sex changes on teens from states that restrict these surgeries, as well as those who provide abortions. The bill, which was cosponsored by Rep. Brianna Titone (D.), who identifies as transgender, was approved alongside two pieces of legislation that would expand abortion access in the state, all three of which have already passed the state senate.
Colorado is the latest blue state whose legislators have moved to enshrine protections to controversial medical procedures. Oregon Democrats last month passed a package designed to make their state a "haven" for people seeking sex changes and abortions, and Minnesota has passed similar legislation. California lawmakers have advanced a number of similar bills, including one bill that would allow children to check into group homes if their parents do not support their "gender identity."
The bill, which passed on party lines, was advanced late Saturday after 29-hours of contentious debate. Before passing the measure, House lawmakers added an amendment stating that the state’s definition of "reproductive health care" includes sex change procedures and sterilization. This would ensure the legislation applies for minors under 19, according to Colorado Catholic Conference executive director Brittany Vessely.
During the floor debate, Titone scolded a Republican colleague who questioned the safety of child sex changes, saying he lacked "empathy" and claimed no one would choose to change genders voluntarily.
"Why would you want to be that? Why would you want to be a trans person when the governments are telling you you can’t play sports, that you can’t be yourself?" Titone said, according to the Denver Post. "Why would anybody want that? Nobody would want that."
An increasing number of children are saying they are transgender, Reuters reported. In 2021, some 42,000 children and teens were told by therapists that they have gender dysphoria—almost triple the number given this diagnosis in 2017.
The bill could still face a legal challenge. The state assembly’s non-partisan counsel said last week that SB 188 violates a provision in Colorado’s constitution barring bills from regulating more than one subject, Colorado Politics reports. Colorado’s Office of Legislative Legal Services found that the bill improperly welds the terms "reproductive health care" and "gender-affirming health care" into one entity, when they are actually separate.
Democrats say this was a technical issue they resolved in the amendment process. But Republicans say the constitutional problems persist and that the error points to a much larger problem.
"We think this process is moving too fast, we're not having good debates," Assistant House minority leader Rose Pugliese, a Republican, told Colorado Politics.
The bill is expected to be sent to Gov. Jared Polis’s desk for approval, along with the two abortion bills that passed Saturday. Those bills would empower state officials to target crisis pregnancy centers for promoting alleged "misinformation" about abortion and force insurance plans to cover abortion without copays. The bills would also make Colorado the first state to ban abortion pill reversals.