This week, two members of Vermont Family Alliance (VFA) presented testimony to the House Judiciary Committee on H89, a bill that seeks to shield reproductive health and gender-affirming providers and out-of-state persons seeking care in Vermont from “abusive litigation” from other states in which legislation and judicial judgments regarding these types of care conflict with Vermont’s.
VFA member Renee McGuinness focused testimony [click to see video] on gender-affirming care outlined in the bill, and the lack of international consensus of Standards of Care for youth presenting gender dysphoria. Carol Kauffman, President of VFA, focused on the lack of safeguards for minors and usurpation of parental rights (@15:20).
“Vermont Family Alliance is opposed to shielding gender care practitioners from litigation that we consider not necessarily abusive when the Standard of Care for minors in Vermont is exclusively gender-affirming,” stated McGuinness.
“While the State of Vermont has adopted an exclusively gender-affirming approach to care of minors presenting with gender dysphoria and incongruency, studies show there is no international consensus on the Standard of Care … particularly for birth-registered females [presenting in adolescence] – a demographic for which presentation of gender dysphoria has grown dramatically in recent years,” she said.
McGuinness cited the Cass Review Interim Report on The Tavistock Centre gender clinic commissioned by the UK National Health Services (NHS), released in February 2022. The independent study came after a lawsuit against Tavistock gender clinic was filed.
Rep. Barbara Rachelson (D-Burlington) pointed to the American Academy of Pediatrics as having a Standard of Care for youth presenting with gender dysphoria, to which McGuinness reiterated that there is no international standard of care and that, “maybe the American Academy of Pediatrics and all these other United States medical organizations that might have what they have determined as Standards of Care – I think that they need to look at this Interim Report, and take it into consideration, and reevaluate their Standards of Care.”
Rep. Angela Arsenault stated she considers H89, as written, as in alignment with the goal of the Cass Interim Report that, “Every gender-questioning child or young person who seeks help from the NHS must receive the support they need to get on the appropriate pathway for them as an individual.”
McGuinness emphasized agreement with “appropriate pathway for each individual” and stated that since Vermont has adopted a gender-affirming approach only, “it excludes all other options. That means all psychiatric care, all medical care is geared toward gender-affirming only – that’s not individual care, that’s ‘one-size-fits-all’ care.”
Kauffman testified, “This bill proposes to define legally protected healthcare activity to include reproductive healthcare services and gender-affirming healthcare for minors. H89 does not … set an age limit … does not address minor brain development, consent challenges, and protections such as case plans, due process, and court oversight … [and] does not protect parental rights and responsibilities.”
H89 allows non-custodial adults to be able to consent on behalf of minors as: “persons who provide reproductive health care services or gender-affirming health care service, persons who assist others in obtaining reproductive health care services or gender-affirming health care services …” (p.16).
The bill also allows “An adult person, a parent, or a legal guardian acting on behalf of a minor… may apply to the Secretary of State to have an address designated by the Secretary serve as the person’s address or the address of the minor…” (p.20)
“This ‘adult person’ is not defined, yet they are given equal rights and responsibilities as parents and legal guardians. Parents cannot continue to be excluded from selecting the adults that will have intimate access to their children,” Kauffman stated.
“H.89 does not set reasonable minor protections regarding these “persons” or “adult”, such as background checks, fingerprinting, registering with the Secretary of State, Vermont Department of Children and Families case plans, or court oversight.
“Thirty-seven states have parental notification laws … Vermont is not one of them. We are watching families flock to parental right states to protect their children,” Kauffman continued.
“Sister states will not come after Vermont because an adult chooses to come to Vermont to access legally protected health care including reproductive health care services and gender-affirming health care services. Prostitution-free states are not known to go after another state’s prostitution rights because an adult upon their own accord left that state to be part of another state’s prostitution market. This matter is entirely different when it comes to trafficking children across state lines.”
Kauffman closed her testimony with, “Vermont’s disregard for parental rights and responsibilities … statutes allowing unknown adults to access minors without parental knowledge, and extending Vermont’s Address Confidentiality Program to minors across our nation and beyond will not meet H.89’s standard of ‘abusive litigation’.”
Submitted by Vermont Family Alliance, a Parental Rights and Minor Protection Advocacy Group