‘It’s more of a parent’s decision’

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) this week said he opposes state laws that ban gender-affirming health care for transgender young people, distancing himself from other Republicans on what is already shaping up to be a key issue in the race for the White House in 2024.

Christie in a June 18 interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper said states should abandon efforts to ban or restrict gender-affirming health care for transgender children and adolescents, replacing them with policies that prioritize parental involvement in transition-related care for minors.

“I don’t think that the government should ever be stepping into the place of the parents in helping to move their children through a process where those children are confused or concerned about their gender,” said Christie, who launched his 2024 presidential bid earlier this month. “The parents are the people who are best positioned to make these judgments.”

“What I’d like to make sure each state does is require that parents be involved in these decisions,” he continued, later adding: “Folks who are under the age of 18 should have parental support and guidance and love as they make all of the key decisions of their lives, and this should not be one that’s been excluded by the government in any way.”

Twenty states have passed laws that heavily restrict or ban gender-affirming health care for transgender minors, including 17 that have done so this year. In an interview Thursday with Fox & Friends’s Brian Kilmeade, Christie criticized governors that have approved such legislation.

“It’s more of a parent’s decision than a governor’s decision for goodness sakes, Brian,” Christie said. “You really think that Sarah Huckabee Sanders should be making this decision for children in Arkansas?”

“I love Sarah. I think she’s a great person and a really good governor,” he added. “But I don’t think she would ever allow the government to substitute her judgment as a mother’s for their judgment.”

Christie has not explicitly said whether he believes transgender youths should have access to gender-affirming health care and has not indicated whether he supports shield laws that protect access to treatment, but his views still make him an outlier among most other GOP 2024 hopefuls.

Former President Trump (R) outlined close to a dozen policy proposals targeting gender-affirming health care in a February campaign video, including federal legislation to ban care for minors in all 50 states. Trump has also pledged to restrict access to gender-affirming care for transgender adults if he is re-elected.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has expressed similar views, and as governor signed legislation that prohibits health care providers from administering puberty blockers, hormone replacement therapy or surgeries to transgender minors. The law, which was partially blocked by a federal judge this month, also sets up significant barriers for transgender adults to access care and puts providers at risk of losing their licenses.

Nikki Haley, a former South Carolina governor and ambassador to the United Nations, has said she believes transgender young people should not be allowed to medically transition until they are at least 18, and even then, “we shouldn’t have taxpayer dollars going to that.”

Haley has also called transgender women in sports the “women’s issue of our time” and suggested that an increase in suicidal ideation among cisgender teenage girls is being driven by transgender students using restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.

While governor of New Jersey, Christie in 2017 signed laws allowing transgender students to use school facilities that match their gender identity and prohibiting health insurers and Medicaid from discriminating on the basis of gender identity.

Fellow Republican presidential candidate Asa Hutchinson, a former governor of Arkansas, similarly took steps while in office to protect the rights of transgender people. He vetoed Arkansas’s gender-affirming health ban — the nation’s first such measure — in 2021, calling the bill a “vast government overreach.”

A federal judge struck down the Arkansas law, which took effect after the legislature voted to override Hutchinson’s veto, this week.

Hutchinson has yet to address transgender health care on the campaign trail. His campaign has not responded to multiple inquiries on the topic from The Hill.

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