A bill to allow older teens to seek gender-affirming care without their parents’ permission passed the Senate 20-14 on Tuesday.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Erin Sheehan (D-Biddeford), gives 16-and 17-year-olds the power to receive gender-affirming hormone therapy and follow-up care if they meet several criteria.
That includes a gender dysphoria diagnosis, expected harm from a lack of treatment, a refusal by parents to support the treatment, and counseling.
Lead Senate sponsor, Sen. Mike Tipping (D-Orono), asked fellow senators to remember what it was like to be 16 years old.
“Imagine ourselves going through the wrong puberty that was opposite to our gender,” Tipping said. “Imagine the torture that would be.”
Republicans who spoke against the measure said the state requires parental permission for minors to use tanning beds or to get a tattoo, but that the bill proposes to allow teens to make potentially life changing decisions on their own.
“By cutting parents out of the decision-making process for minors 16 and 17, it’s a bridge too far for me,” said Sen. Eric Brakey (R-Auburn).
On Monday, the House voted 73-60 on the measure. Final votes are needed in both chambers before the bill heads to Gov. Janet Mills.