Texas Set To Become Largest State To Bar Gender-Affirming Care For Trans Youth

A bill to ban access to health care for young transgender kids is headed to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk.

Texas is primed to become the latest state to ban gender-affirming care for trans minors as Republicans nationwide continue their assault against queer Americans.

Lawmakers sent Senate Bill 14 to Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) desk Wednesday with a vote of 19-12. The bill would bar doctors from providing hormone therapy and puberty-blocking treatments to minors, as well as gender-affirming surgeries. Patients already receiving care would be required to “wean” themselves off such treatment in a “medically appropriate” way.

It’s unclear what that provision means, as medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association, have long said such care is medically necessary.

If signed, the law would go into effect on Sept. 1 and would be a notable moment in Republican efforts to limit health care to trans minors. Texas would be the largest state to do so, and the provisions could impact many of the estimated 30,000 trans youth between the ages of 13 and 17 that live there.

Civil rights groups have vowed to oppose the law in court. Ricardo Martinez, the CEO of Equality Texas, said the effort was part of a “nefarious plan to eliminate us from public life” but pledged the group would continue to fight the bill.

“This legislation is vicious, it’s cruel and it’s blatantly unconstitutional,” Ash Hall, the policy and advocacy strategist at the ACLU of Texas, said in a statement last week. “The bigotry and discrimination in this bill will not stand up in court and it will not stand the test of time.”

The Texas GOP has taken multiple steps to limit the rights of trans people this session. Lawmakers in the statehouse voted to advance a separate bill Wednesday that would require athletes on public college teams to play on teams based on their gender assigned at birth.

State Sen. Bob Hall (R) told the Texas Tribune that Republican lawmakers equated access to health care to protecting kids from smoking and alcohol, saying it was the legislature’s job to “protect people.”

“We protect children against lots of things. We don’t let them smoke. We don’t let them drink. We don’t let them buy lottery cards,” he said. “And so we are doing the right thing.”

Abbott has supported similar measures in the past. Last year, he drew fierce criticism after signing a directive ordering a state agency to investigate parents for child abuse if they seek gender-affirming treatment for their kids. Lambda Legal and the ACLU sued over that effort, which has been on hold since June as the case makes its way through the court system.

The assault on trans people has become a flashpoint in Republican politics in recent years. At least 14 states have enacted bans or limitations on health care for trans minors, making the effort key legislative priorities despite the small number of people such laws impact. Other GOP-driven efforts have targeted drag queens, access to bathrooms and discussions on gender identity or sexual orientation in classrooms.

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