AUSTIN, Texas (CN) — Just hours after a crowd of several hundred arrived on the Texas Capitol grounds Monday to call for equal rights for LGBTQ+ Texans, Republican lawmakers inside advanced two bills that critics say discriminate against transgender people.
The first, Senate Bill 14, is a sweeping ban on cross-sex hormone therapies, puberty blockers and gender-affirming surgeries for minors. The second, Senate Bill 162, limits the ability of transgender and gender nonconforming Texans to update their birth certificate to include their preferred gender.
Both bills were first brought before the Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs last week before passing out of committee on Monday.
Because of its broad implications, SB 14 in particular has prompted concern in the transgender community.
That bill — filed by Donna Campbell, a Republican state senator from New Braunfels — would ban health care providers from administering gender-affirming surgeries, hormone blockers or hormone therapies to anyone younger than 18 years old. It would also prohibit state funds from being used to pay for such procedures.
Under the bill, physicians who provide such care face having their medical license revoked. The attorney general is also given the authority to file for injunctions to block children from receiving gender confirmation procedures.
The bill would take effect immediately if it passes through the full Texas Legislature, not allowing people who are already receiving treatment to wane off of them.
Six Republican members of the Senate State Affairs Committee signed on as authors of the bill, including Senator Byan Hughes of Mineola, who chairs the committee.
Campbell, who is a physician, claims this law is needed to protect children from making a life-altering decision.
“Our children need counseling and love, not blades and drugs,” she argued while introducing her bill to the committee last Thursday.
The senator urged her fellow lawmakers to support her bill, saying that cross-sex hormone therapies, puberty blockers and gender confirmation surgeries put Texas youth at risk of abuse. Moreover, she asserted that such treatments do not improve the lives of people with gender dysphoria and often lead to more emotional distress.
Megan Mooney, a clinical psychologist from Houston, testified before the committee and told lawmakers that gender-affirming care is proven by evidence to help.
“Gender-affirming care is the most effective care to treat the physiological side effects of gender dysphoria,” said Mooney.
In 2022, Mooney sued the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to stop it from investigating the parents of a transgender child for abuse.
Medical organizations around the world have voiced their support for gender-affirming care. The Texas Medical Association and Texas Pediatric Society have said gender-affirming care is safe and effective at decreasing suicidality in transgender minors.
SB 14 is an attempt to “systematically erase” transgender people from public life, Ash Hall, a policy strategist with the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, told the committee.
In an interview, Hall said they felt their testimony fell on deaf ears.
“I can talk about how this is a life-or-death issue, I can recite facts about suicidal ideation and it doesn't mean anything,” Hall said. “In the end, [lawmakers] are going to do whatever is politically expedient for them.”
Republicans on the state affairs committee and members of the public often described these forms of gender-affirming care as mutilation and child abuse. Hall said that such descriptions are used deliberately to convince people who do not know a transgender person to favor banning these forms of care.
Talking about SB 162, Hall said that if passed, the bill would essentially make transgender and non-binary people invisible. The bill, filed by Republican Senator Charles Perry of Lubbock, was cheered by many of the same witnesses who supported SB 14.