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Washington Blade: LGBTQ News, Politics, LGBTQ Rights, Gay News: Republican senators focus on trans women in sports during ‘Protecting Pride’ hearing

During the Senate Judiciary Committee’s “Protecting Pride” hearing on Wednesday morning, Republican members were largely focused on transgender women’s participation in competitive sports.

Members on the other side of the aisle, meanwhile, addressed a variety of LGBTQ topics — including the need for passage of the Equality Act, which they reintroduced with a press conference just after the hearing.

Most questions from the GOP senators were addressed to one of their three witnesses, Riley Gaines, who once competed with trans swimmer Lia Thomas and rose to public attention last year for her advocacy against the inclusion of trans women in athletics.

During the hearing, Gaines claimed not to be transphobic and insisted she harbored no negative feelings toward her former teammate, but used incendiary language about trans women, including repeatedly describing Thomas’s genitals and deliberately misgendering her.

Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson, a witness invited by the committee’s Democratic members, dedicated a portion of her prepared remarks to the Equality Act ahead of her appearance at the press conference.

The legislation, which would extend federal nondiscrimination protections to LGBTQ Americans, has been introduced in Congress several times over more than a decade.

Particularly now that the Congress has made major inroads toward LGBTQ rights — codifying protections for same-sex couples, for instance, and repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” — Robinson said “it’s time for Congress to catch up to where our country already is.”

The Equality Act enjoys broad support, including from major companies, said U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). She asked Robinson to affirm that it remains lawful in certain parts of the country to deny loans to LGBTQ applicants based only on bias toward their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Robinson had previously noted LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections are on the books in only 23 states.

Democratic senators addressed many of their questions to Dr. Ximena Lopez, a pediatrician trained in pediatric endocrinology whose practice includes the treatment of minor patients diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

Lopez dispelled some of the misinformation about the health treatments administered to trans youth that is commonly spread by conservative activists. Contrary to claims that are often circulated online, she said, the decision to opt for one’s child to undergo a medically facilitated transition per the best practices standard of care and clinical practice guidelines is “highly complex” for “any parent from any background.”

“It takes a lot of time and effort to meet with different health providers and physicians to discuss risks, benefits, possible alternatives,” Lopez said.

She added, “I’m here because I’m very worried for the mental health of my patients, the ones I see in my clinic who are supported by their parents and receiving gender affirming care and thriving.”

Lopez, whose practice is located in Texas, said if these patients suddenly lose access to gender affirming care, she fears for the consequences on their mental health. They are “debating whether to leave or hide,” she said, “and it’s really devastating.”

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