OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska lawmaker says her office has been contacted by families who have reported some pharmacists are wrongly refusing to fill prescriptions for gender-affirming medications for their transgender children, citing a new state law limiting the ability of anyone under 19 to get puberty blockers or gender-affirming hormones.
Omaha Sen. Megan Hunt sent a letter Wednesday to the state’s chief medical officer, Dr. Timothy Tesmer, asking him to inform all Nebraska healthcare professionals — including pharmacists — that the new law specifically allows minors who were already receiving those medicines before the law took effect to continue that treatment.
The law, often referred to by its bill name of LB574, also bans gender-affirming surgeries for trans youth under 19. It took effect on Sunday.
“However, parents and patients inform me that they have been denied prescriptions essential for care that were prescribed prior to October 1, 2023,” Hunt’s letter reads. “Apparently, some Nebraska pharmacists are using LB574 to refuse to refill prescriptions issued by healthcare providers. Any disruption or delay in a prescribed regimen is inconsistent with the plain letter of LB 574 and is inconsistent with the medical standard of care for these patients.”
A spokesman for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately respond to a message asking whether the department or Tesmer would honor Hunt’s request.
The new law would allow some new transgender patients under the age of 19 to begin pharmaceutical treatment under a set of guidelines to be drafted by the state’s chief medical officer.
Tesmer, who was appointed to that post weeks ago by Republican Gov. Jim Pillen, had said during his confirmation hearing that he would likely be unable to issue those guidelines by Oct. 1. But he did release a set of emergency regulations on Sunday until permanent regulations could be adopted, which is expected sometime after a public hearing is held on the final draft in late November.
Those emergency regulations came after families, doctors and some lawmakers said they had largely gotten no response from the department on when the regulations would be in place.
Hunt has been a vocal critic of the new law and was among a handful of progressive lawmakers who helped filibuster nearly every bill before the officially nonpartisan Legislature earlier this year to protest it.
Hunt, herself, has endured a barrage of hateful accusations and rhetoric after she publicly shared in a legislative floor speech that her 13-year-old child is transgender.
Earlier this year, she sued a conservative political action committee that labeled her a child “groomer” and suggested that she has sexually abused her own child, prompting dozens of harassing calls and emails to her and her office. Some threatened her with physical harm.
A judge dismissed her lawsuit against the Nebraska Freedom Coalition last week. Hunt is considering an appeal.
Nebraska’s restrictions on gender-affirming care were part of a wave of measures rolling back transgender rights in Republican-controlled statehouses across the U.S.
At least 22 states have enacted laws restricting or banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors, and most of those states face lawsuits. An Arkansas ban mirroring Nebraska’s was struck down by a federal judge in June as unconstitutional and will be appealed to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court, which also handles Nebraska cases.