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Transgender people in state prisons banned from gender-affirming surgery under House legislation

Transgender people would be banned from getting gender-affirming surgery while they’re in state prisons under legislation approved by a House committee Wednesday.

The bill, HB 1569, defines what it calls “sexual reassignment surgery” as procedures meant to alter the appearance of or affirm the patient’s “perception” of their gender as being different from their gender assigned at birth.

Aaron Craft is the civil appeals section chief with the Indiana attorney general’s office. He said legal precedent allows the state to ban such surgeries for people in the prison system.

“Combined with the continued availability of hormonal and other, non-surgical therapies for gender dysphoric patients,” Craft said.

READ MORE: Advocates gather at the Statehouse, protest nearly two dozen anti-LGBTQ+ bills

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The bill originally banned hormonal therapy as well, but that was removed by the House committee.

Katie Blair, ACLU of Indiana director of advocacy and public policy, said that doesn’t matter – the bill is unconstitutional.

“This bill would categorically force the [Department of Correction] to deny the only medically-accepted, evidence-based treatments available to incarcerated transgender people," Blair said.

The bill is headed to the House floor.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.