Texas Legislature passes bill banning gender-affirming care for minors
Health care providers will have to stop offering any ‘transition’-related care to anyone under 18 if Gov. Greg Abbott signs the bill.
The Texas Legislature this week passed a bill that will, if enacted, ban doctors from providing gender-affirming care to anyone under the age of 18. The bill includes a provision that requires minors currently receiving gender-affirming care such as puberty blockers to “wean off” such treatment after the bill goes into effect.
The House of Representatives voted 85-56 on May 15 to pass Senate Bill 14, and the Senate voted two days later 19-12 to approve the House’s version of the bill and send it to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk for signature.
The votes were mostly along party lines; in the House, Democratic Reps. Harold Dutton Jr., Abel Herrero, Tracy King and Shawn Thierry joined Republicans in voting for the bill.
S.B. 14 is a sweeping ban on gender-affirming care for minors, stating that a health plan that covers a child may not pay for services “that are intended to transition a child’s biological sex as determined by the child’s sex organs, chromosomes and endogenous profiles.”
The bill provides an exception for any child that begins treatment with a prescription medication prior to June 1, 2023, who has “attended 12 or more sessions of mental health counseling or psychotherapy” six months prior to the start of treatment — but only so that children covered by this exception can “wean off the prescription drug over a period of time and manner that is safe and medically appropriate and that minimizes the risk of complications.”
It also provides exceptions for children with precocious puberty or those who are intersex or have a sex development disorder. “
The Legislature’s approval of the bill comes after protests on May 2 during which state police removed a group of demonstrators from the state Capitol.
Democratic state lawmakers were able to delay the bill twice earlier in May, but were ultimately unsuccessful in blocking the bill.
“I hate bullies. I hate when we pick on people who can’t defend themselves. To me, this legislation is a type of bullying,” Democratic Rep. Gene Wu said in a speech opposing the bill, according to the Texas Tribune.
The latest bill is far from the only legislative attack on LGBTQ rights in Texas. As of last month, Texas had more anti-trans legislation under consideration than any other state, according to Axios.
They include the Texas Millstone Act, which would ban gender-affirming care for anyone up to age 26 and which so far has not made it out of committee, and a ban on trans children participating in sports that align with their gender identity, which had made it through the Senate and was headed to the House as of May 17.
Texas’ child welfare agency began investigating parents of trans children for alleged child abuse in February 2022, though that effort has faced legal challenges, including a lawsuit filed by LGBTQ advocacy group PFLAG and parents of trans children in the state. That lawsuit resulted in an injunction issued in September blocking investigations of any family that is a member of PFLAG.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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