Gender care regulations advance, but some public comments left unheard

Jan. 25, 2024, 4:49 p.m. ·

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DHHS says an amended hearing summary is being developed and will be delivered to the Legislature’s Executive Committee as soon as possible. (Photo by Tim Bieler on Unsplash)

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Proposed gender-affirming care regulations were approved by the Nebraska State Board of Health Monday, advacing the temporary regulations to the Attorney General's Office.

However, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services says a member of the public informed them some public comments were not included in the public hearing summary given to the board.

When the Let Them Grow Act was passed by the Nebraska Legislature last May, it granted the authority to the State’s Chief Medical Officer, Doctor Timothy Tesmer, to craft temporary regulations for minors receiving gender affirming care.

In October, Tesmer released regulations which included a requirement of 40 hours of gender-identity-focused therapy before hormones can be prescribed and a seven day waiting period between prescription and distribution of hormone medication.

A public hearing on those regulations was held in November, where the vast majority criticized them for being too restrictive. Four hundred seventy written comments were also included in the hearing summary, though the DHHS believes there could have been more.

Abbi Swatsworth, executive director of OutNebraska, an advocacy and education LGBTQ group, said the exclusion of comments reflects a broken promise from the state.

“This is really another instance that shows the lack of transparency and accountability with public officials especially when it comes to our rights,” she said.

Swatsworth said the policies could also be contributing to fewer young people staying in Nebraska.

"If lawmakers wonder why young people are leaving Nebraska, we can point to actions like this as a part of the problem,” they said.

DHHS says an amended hearing summary is being developed and will be delivered to the Legislature’s Executive Committee as soon as possible.