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Nebraska Bills Aim to Block Surgeries and Sports Participation For Transgender Youth

JohnCarl Denkovich

“This type of legislation costs people their lives. Suicide among our trans community is very high,” said JohnCarl Denkovich, with Omaha ForUs.

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LINCOLN, Nebraska (KETV) — Two proposed bills target transgender children across Nebraska.

Omaha Sen. Kathleen Kauth introduced the "Let Them Grow" and "Let Them Play" bills Tuesday.

LGBTQ+ advocates said the bills target a small population in the state and will do more harm than good.

“This type of legislation costs people their lives. Suicide among our trans community is very high,” said JohnCarl Denkovich, with Omaha ForUs.

They just moved into a space to open the new nonprofit.

It's a place to belong for the metro’s LGBTQ+ community.

Legislation from Kauth sounds alarm bells.

"This sends a very clear message that you're not wanted here,” Denkovich said.

LB574 would ban gender-altering surgeries and drugs for those under 19.

“Any child who is struggling deserves real love and care and support instead of harmful drugs and surgeries,” said Nate Grasz, with The Nebraska Family Alliance.

LB575 would limit school sports, and bathrooms, by a person's biological sex at birth.

Grasz said it's to preserve fairness in girls’ sports.

“We believe it's common sense and widely accepted policy that girls' sports should be for girls. And so this bill is simply protecting those opportunities. It simply requires that sports need to be designated either for boys or girls or coed. And then participation is based off of biological sex,” Grasz said.

In the event there is no team for girls, according to the bill girls would be allowed to play on the boy’s team.

Sammi Alexander is with the ACLU’s transgender advisory board. She said these policies target transgender youth.

“It’s not really about transgender kids playing sports it's about not wanting transgender people around,” Alexander said.

She stresses that a child's feelings are not a choice.

"I would have never transitioned if it were something I could just say I don't want to do, it's something I, I was born to be and that's the way I am,” Alexander said.

Denkovich stresses trans people are already at a higher risk for suicide and isolating children could cause harm.

They encourage lawmakers to get to know the community before making broad changes.

“It would be great to change beliefs, but ultimately, I’m here to change behaviors and making sure that we afford people the dignity, respect and kindness that they're due,” Denkovich said.

The Nebraska Family Alliance said the bills boil down to making the best choice for children.

"We think that kids deserve love. They deserve time to develop, and they deserve support,” Grasz said.

Both bills have more than 20 other lawmakers backing them as co-sponsors.

Omaha Sen. Megan Hunt already filed motions to indefinitely postpone them.

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