Texas governor suggests he'll ban affirming health care for trans youth

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told a talk show host he has 'another solution.'

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said on Monday that he plans to make an announcement within the next week on ensuring that transgender youth don't receive gender-affirming care such as hormone treatments and puberty blockers.

Abbott didn't include a prohibition on transition-related care in his agenda for the special session of the Texas Legislature that began on July 8, although he did include legislation that would ban transgender school athletes from playing on the team of their gender.

The Texas Senate passed two bills, one of which includes such a ban at the college level, on July 14.

Lawmakers have introduced bills this month that would prohibit gender-affirming care for transgender youth in the state, but during a radio interview, Abbott indicated that he had plans for actions outside of the Legislature to impose such a health care ban.

On a radio talk show in Dallas hosted by conservative Mark Davis, the governor was asked why his proclamation of the special session and its agenda hadn't included a ban on affirming health care for transgender minors, or, as Davis phrased it, "on the crazy issue of gender-bending ... curiously absent was a notion of a law to make it illegal to carve up our kids or pump them full of hormones in order to change their sex when they are still minors."

Abbott responded, "We have another solution that will address that problem that will be announced shortly. I know you would like me to announce it on your show, and maybe I will, but not today. But the solution should be announced within the next week."

Abbott added, "There's another way of achieving the exact same thing, and it's about a finished product as we speak right now and may be announced as soon as this week."

"I'll respect your timing on that, and let me just ask one more thing. When that solution makes itself known, will the end result, if as you said the bottom line is what matters, is that crazy parents and crazy doctors will not be able to try to turn girls into boys and vice versa in the state of Texas?" Davis asked.

Abbott replied, "Yes."

While Davis and Abbott dismiss gender-affirming care for young people as "carving up" children, studies continue to show that such care is important to trans youth's physical and mental health. A study published last year by the journal Pediatrics reported, "Gender-incongruent youth who present to gender-affirming care later in life have higher rates of psychoactive medication use and mental health problems. We use our findings to suggest that this group is particularly vulnerable and highlight the need for appropriate care."

Equality Texas tweeted in response to Abbott's plans for restricting health care for trans kids, "We are committed to uplifting the stories of trans youth and their families across Texas, celebrating their humanity, and protecting them from harm. We are carefully watching news updates along with you and ask that you join us to #ProtectTransKids."

The Texas Legislature is among the many statehouses controlled by GOP lawmakers in which a tidal wave of anti-LGBTQ bills has been introduced this year, many of which target transgender youth by stopping trans athletes from playing on the team of their gender and restricting their access to gender-affirming care. Eight states passed bans on trans athletes playing on school sports teams.

In March, the Arkansas Legislature passed a bill that would have banned transition-related health care for transgender youth. Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who signed into law multiple anti-LGBTQ bills this year, vetoed it, saying:

The bill is overbroad, extreme and does not grandfather those young people who are currently under hormone treatment. The young people who are currently under a doctor's care will be without treatment when this law goes into effect. That means they will be looking to the black market or go out of state … to find the treatment that they want and need. This is not the right path to put them on.

The legislature overrode Hutchinson's veto in April. In May, the American Civil Liberties Union sued Arkansas on behalf of families affected by the law.

Amanda Dennis, who has a transgender daughter, said, "We have told all of our children that we will always protect them, but this law stands in the way of our child getting the medical care she will desperately need."

On Wednesday, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas in Little Rock will hear arguments in the case.

In June, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a legal brief in the case calling the Arkansas law unconstitutional. "Prohibiting medically necessary care in the manner prescribed by Act 626 amounts to intentional discrimination against transgender minors on the basis of sex," the statement of interest filed in Brandt et al. v. Rutledge et al. reads.

Seventeen Republican state attorneys general filed a brief defending the law.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.