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Texas Senate committee advances bill banning gender-affirming care

The bill passed with full support from Republicans on the committee, who decried cross-sex hormone treatments, puberty blockers and gender confirmation surgeries as dangerous.

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.


Data from the Cleveland Clinic show that a minority of transgender people, including adults, receive gender-affirming surgery at all. Meanwhile, a poll conducted last month by the Texas Politics Project found that 59% of Texans do not personally know someone who is transgender.

Showing support for SB 14 and other bills that would restrict gender-affirming care was Tracy Shannon. During her testimony for the Senate committee last week, Shannon introduced herself by saying: “My pronouns are biological sex is real.” 

As the Texas director of MassResistance, an international anti-LGBTQ organization, Shannon believes that the drugs and procedures offered to transition someone with gender dysphoria are dangerous and have not been properly vetted. Moreover, she testified that providers of gender-affirming care see patients as a means to profit. 

“Not only do [doctors] get [kids] in the pipeline for these procedures, they are patients for life… and to me that is just making a whole bunch of money for a lot of people off of each patient,” Shannon said in an interview.

Against this backdrop, a crowd of several hundred transgender people and their allies descended on the Texas Capitol on Monday to speak out against what they say are hateful policies.

Carrying signs with messages like “Trans Rights are Human Rights” and “No Hate In My State,” they marched in unison across the western lawn of the Capitol until they reached the front steps.

“Protect trans kids,” they chanted. “Y’all means all.”

The rally brought out a diverse crowd — including not only transgender people, their families, drag queens and others directly affected by policy proposals in Texas but also those who said they were simply concerned about the state of civil liberties in Texas.

David Plylar, a veteran and retired teacher from San Antonio, was part of the latter group.

He didn’t consider himself a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Instead, he said, “my issues are always civil liberties.”

He was concerned not only by efforts to restrict gender-affirming care, but also by attempts to limit books available to school kids, including those with LGBTQ+ themes.

All of these proposals reflected a “lack of trust and confidence” in experts like teachers, he said. Republican lawmakers want to tell “doctors how to do their job [and] teachers how to do their job.”

Guillermo Garza Alexander, a gay married man, was at the rally in his drag persona: Polly Nomial Fontaine. It's a math joke, he said. His husband is a mathematician.

Alexander had come out to support the LGBTQ+ community and to stand against “human suffering.” As a medical receptionist, he said that “tragedy” happens when “people don’t get life-affirming care.” There’s evidence to back him up: Research, including from the National Institutes of Health, shows that transgender youth face high levels of suicidality when they feel unsupported.

Alexander pushed back on right-wing claims that kids are rushed into gender-affirming care. Doctors “don’t just give out hormones,” he said.

“It weighs heavily on my heart,” he said of the many anti-trans policies in Texas. Instead of criminalizing medical care for children, he suggested that anti-trans politicians should instead be criminalized. “They’re wasting taxpayer dollars.”

Texas is just one of many states that are exploring legislation to ban gender-affirming care for minors. Eight states have already banned such care, including Florida, Alabama, Tennessee and Arizona. 

During Texas’ previous legislative session in 2021, lawmakers attempted to pass a bill banning gender-affirming care for youth but were unsuccessful. Senator Bob Hall, an Edgewood Republican, spearheaded efforts two years ago. 

Having gained the committee’s approval, both SB 14 and SB 162 will now be voted upon by the full Senate, where they are expected to pass. From there, the Texas House will get its chance to make changes to the bills or pass them as they stand.

Categories: Civil Rights Government Politics Regional

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