INDIANAPOLIS — One day after referring to Senate Bill 480 as being “clear as mud,” Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed the bill into law thereby banning gender-transitioning care for anyone under the age of 18.

The ban will now go into effect on July 1. Trans youths already taking medication to transition would be required to stop doing so by the end of the year.

“Permanent gender-changing surgeries with lifelong impacts and medically prescribed preparation for such a transition should occur as an adult, not as a minor. There has and will continue to be debate within the medical community about the best ways to provide physical and mental health care for adolescents who are struggling with their own gender identity, and it is important that we recognize and understand those struggles are real. With all of that in mind, I have decided to sign SB 480 into law.”

Gov. Eric J. Holcomb

The Indiana bill was widely debated at the Indiana Statehouse and drew protestors and emotionally charged testimony during hearings. The bill ultimately passed through both the Republican-controlled Senate and House.

Proponents for the bill said the ban will protect children, with Republican lawmakers arguing that children are too young to make such life-altering decisions.

“We really felt common-sense policy to help protect kids, and that’s really the biggest reason we wanted to get this done,” said the bill’s author, State Sen. Tyler Johnson (R-Leo).

Critics of the bill argue it doesn’t protect children, however, and will instead be harmful to thousands of Hoosiers by denying medical care that is life-saving and scientifically backed.

The ACLU of Indiana already has filed a lawsuit challenging the ban. The lawsuit, filed in federal court on Wednesday, argues that the ban violates the U.S. Constitution.

Many pushed for Holcomb to veto the bill, with Holcomb himself calling it “clear as mud.” Holcomb previously vetoed a bill that banned transgender girls from participating in girls school sports but his veto was overridden by the Republican-dominated legislature.

IU Health declared its intentions to continue providing care and support to patients under 18 experiencing gender identity disorder or gender dysphoria, with the family’s consent.

“While the law does not allow the use of medicine supported therapies for gender affirming care needs for minors, the program has a multidisciplinary team who can provide mental health and social support,” IU Health said in a provided statement.

Sen. Shelli Yoder (D-Bloomington) expressed her disappointment in the “hate bill” being signed by Holcomb.

“I am incredibly disappointed, but unsurprised, to see Governor Holcomb attach his name to this reactionary, cut-and-paste hate bill. Contrary to the Governor’s statement, facts and public record show the vast majority of American medical associations recognize gender-affirming care as safe and necessary. One in three trans youth will attempt suicide, and more grapple with depression and anxiety-–appropriate intervention, including medical transition, greatly reduces those odds.”

Assistant Minority Leader Shelli Yoder

Republican Senator Mike Braun, who recently announced his run for governor of Indiana, applauded Holcomb signing the bill into law.

“A child cannot consent to irreversible sex change surgery, and Indiana will no longer allow children to take dangerous drugs with long-term consequences like puberty blockers and hormone therapies in the name of extreme gender theories. These kids are clearly having a hard time, and we need to give them compassion and mental health help rather than dangerous, un-tested, unapproved drugs and irreversible surgeries.”

Sen. Mike Braun

Yoder responded by telling Republicans who speak about mental health issues to “pony up.”

“Our ratio of school counselors to students is nearly 700:1, the highest in the nation,” Yoder said. “Indiana also ranks low in our overall ratio of need to providers outside of schools. If you say these kids need counseling, I say pony up: put your money where your mouth is and increase funding for our counselors and for robust mental health services. This care was working for Hoosier youth and their families: the state is once again playing doctor, playing it poorly, and playing it to the detriment and despair of real families and children.”

The bill is just the latest in a wave of Republican-backed bills targeting transgender care and communities across the United States. The ACLU currently is tracking more than 120 bills targetting LGBTQ rights.