Illinois state agency hosting closed event to promote ‘Gender-Affirming Care for Youth’

(The Center Square) – An Illinois state agency is hosting an internal event titled “Dispelling Myths Around Gender-Affirming Care For Youth.” A state senator has concerns about normalizing…

(The Center Square) – An Illinois state agency is hosting an internal event titled “Dispelling Myths Around Gender-Affirming Care For Youth.” A state senator has concerns about normalizing what he says is abnormal behavior in children. 

A spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Human Services said the June 27 “virtual presentation” is a closed event, not open to the public. The agency didn’t provide any further comment. A link to register for the event that was live Thursday morning appears to have been removed after an inquiry.  

A flier promoting the event obtained by The Center Square shows logos for IDHS and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services emblazoned in rainbow colors. A DCFS spokesperson said the event is a DHS event. Also on the flier is a logo for the Illinois State Board of Education. A spokesperson for ISBE didn’t return a message seeking comment.

Four bullet points on the flier say the “virtual presentation” will:

  • Address the myths and misinformation around medical gender-affirmation for youth and teens;
  • Explore the meaning and application of gender-affirming care for youth/teens beyond medical care;
  • Discuss the importance of adult support in the development, mental health, and overall wellbeing of transgender and non binary youth/teens;
  • Explore existing supports and resources for youth in Illinois.

While he didn’t have much detail about the event, state Sen. Andrew Chesney, R-Freeport, said he was alarmed after hearing about it.  

“These types of reactions require counseling and require love and need the family to figure out what’s going on in this young child’s mind that makes them feel this way,” Chesney told The Center Square. “The idea that the government is going to step in and normalize that and then provide a conduit for life altering procedures is not only dangerous, but I would argue is child abuse.”

Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services documents say the department financially covers gender-affirming procedures, even for youth under 21, on a case by case basis, if it is determined to be of “medical necessity.” 

Illinois Administrative Code for the medical payment program says “Notwithstanding the age limitation in subsection (a)(16)(A), payment for gender-affirming surgeries, services and procedures for patients under 21 years of age will be made in specific cases if medical necessity is demonstrated and prior approval is received.”

Chesney said adults can do what they want to do but children should not be involved in such medical procedures.  

“These are not reversible decisions. These are irreversible decisions that will have long-lasting impacts that in most cases we will likely be footing the bill forever on top of the psychological impact this has on young children that will of course be adults,” Chesney said. 

In Washington state, the governor signed a bill that shields patients and providers of gender-affirming care from prosecution by authorities out-of-state, including preventing cooperation with investigations from other states. In California, legislators are debating a measure to revoke custody of parents that don’t affirm a child’s gender identity.