Activists: Bill to Protect Minors From Female Genital Mutilation Is Anti-Transgender

Leon Weiler, of Cambridge, Mass., top, holds a flag while standing with other protesters in support of transgender rights beside the "Free Speech Bus," painted with the words "boys are boys" and "girls are girls," in the Harvard Square neighborhood of Cambridge, Thursday, March 30, 2017. A spokesman for the …
AP Photo/Steven Senne

A bill in the Wyoming legislation to criminalize the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) on minors that has bipartisan support is being slammed by transgender activists who claim it discriminates against those who might want surgery to alter their biological sex.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that as many as 200 million girls and women around the world are living with the harmful effects of FMG, which can include chronic pain, recurring infections, incontinence, sexual problems, and complications of pregnancy and labor that increase risk of death to the infant.

Both Republicans and Democrats in the state are backing HBO127, which “defines FGM; classifies FGM as aggravated assault and battery; requires convictions of FGM be included on the child abuse registry; prohibits licensure of health care professionals who perform the procedure; mandates FGM be reported as child abuse; provides an avenue for victims of the procedure to recover damages; and calls for establishment of a community education program,” according to an online site focused on “gender identity.”

“The site reported on opposition to the bill, citing Tara Muir, policy director of the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (WCADVSA), has slammed the legislation as having the potential to place ‘draconian limits on transgender people.’” 

The bill defines and describes FMG, according to the article: 

“Female genital mutilation” includes the partial or total removal of the clitoris, prepuce, labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora, the narrowing of the vaginal opening such as through the creation of a covering seal formed by cutting and repositioning the inner or outer labia, with or without removal of the clitoris, any harmful procedure to the genitalia, including pricking, piercing, incising, scraping or cauterizing or any other actions intended to alter the structure or function of the female genitalia for non-medical reasons. HB0127 – Prohibition of female genital mutilation HBO 127 specifies that “sex reassignment surgery” is not prohibited “if the person on whom it is performed is over eighteen (18) years of age and requests and consents to the procedure.” 

Although both Democrats and Republicans acknowledged that it is already “rare” for a doctor to allow a person under 18 to undergo gender-affirming surgeries, transgender activists are crying foul. Representative Sara Burlingame (D-Cheyenne) protested the language of the sex-reassignment clause as “bog[ging] this bill down with something that’s going to stop it in its tracks,” while Tara Muir of WCADVSA complained, “Wyoming cannot be the first state with such draconian limits on transgender people.” 

Some discussion of the bill on social media included tweets about Renee Bergstrom, who faced FGM as a child in a religious cult. Tweets claimed Bergstrom’s use of the expression “female genital mutilation” is “transgender-exclusionary language, as not all people with vaginas are women, and not all women have vaginas.”

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