On Friday night, following more than five hours of heated debate and a packed gallery, the Texas House of Representatives voted to pass a bill that would prohibit children from receiving gender affirming medical treatments and strongly encourage doctors to wean current patients off of such care.
The bill is almost ready to become law, despite the fact that it goes against the advice of prominent medical groups in the United States. The bill’s passing was cheered on by its backers because it was the Senate’s final order of business before members left for the Mother’s Day weekend.
Presenter of Legislation Anesthesiologist Tom Oliverson claimed that parents are “manipulated” into accepting their transgender children and cast doubt on the reliability of studies that have been peer-reviewed. He argued that the only acceptable treatment for transgender youth in Texas was mental health care.
“We don’t treat mental health disorders with surgery. We treat mental health disorders with mental health care,” said Oliverson, R-Cypress. After passing the House once, it is all but certain that the bill will pass a second time.
Before the House’s amendments can be sent to the governor’s office, they must be approved by the Senate, where Republicans also hold a majority. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has made no public statements about the bill.
He ordered CPS investigations into the mistreatment of transgender children last year, but that policy has been put on hold while the issue is challenged. Some conservatives in the legislature ran on or pledged not to leave until the ban was passed, therefore its approval was a fulfillment of their campaign promises.
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K!lling the bill was a primary priority for transgender rights advocates. After the vote, Equality Texas’s leader Ricardo Martinez took a firm stance for the LGBTQ community. “This is part of a nefarious plan to eliminate us from public life. But it won’t work. We will not stop fighting for our rights. Not now, not ever,” he said in a statement.
To “transition a child’s biological s*x,” the law would make it so that doctors who prescribe puberty suppressants, provide hormone therapy, or perform surgery on minors would have their licenses revoked. It would also prevent government funding from going to private organizations or institutions that care for children in this way.
With 12 or more sessions with a mental health counselor or psychotherapist in the six months prior to the bill’s effective date of June 1, existing patients might continue along their treatment route without switching drugs or initiating a new course of care.
However, doctors would be obligated to “wean” their patients off of this support in a “safe and medically appropriate” way. Nontransgender minors with health problems, such as premature puberty, are not denied access to this service. There would also be no limits placed on inters*x youth undergoing surgery.
The contentious bill has been sent back to committee twice this month thanks to successful procedural maneuvers by House Democrats. Having failed for the third time on Friday, they instead spent the day preparing a legal challenge to the bill in the event that it becomes law.
Since the legislation would solely prohibit these treatments for transgender youth, Democrats are concerned that it goes against the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.
“This bill is totally unconstitutional and violates the rights of a targeted group of people from accessing healthcare. Today we set the record of how this bill adversely affects a certain segment of families,” said Rep. Julie Johnson, D-Farmers Branch.
For more information on the prohibition on care that promotes gender equality, see the tweet below:
TODAY: Senate Bill 14, a ban on gender affirming care for #transgender minors, will be back on the house floor for debate today. It’s the last debate before the bill heads to @GovAbbott.
Earlier this week, protests disrupt the debate. Background: https://t.co/UgqRcedkdQ #txlege
— Lauren McGaughy 🌟 (@lmcgaughy) May 5, 2023
Movement Equality Map, a pro-LGBTQ rights resource, reports that seventeen additional states have enacted laws analogous to this one. Two states’ laws are on hold while they’re being challenged in court. Nineteen times, Democrats tried to modify the law and failed.
They fought unsuccessfully to have the bill’s age requirements relaxed or the ban on procedures itself removed. Transgender youth suicide rates were requested. One of the most far-reaching changes they proposed was to establish a panel that could give the green light to therapies if they were supported by four physicians.
Also, that endeavor was doomed to fail. The sole amendment that was passed was one presented by Oliverson to cut out any section of the act that is later deemed “invalid.”
Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles conducted a recent statistical research and found that there are an estimated 29,800 transgender Texans between the ages of 13 and 17. Texas Politics Project said, just around a third of Texans in general and even fewer Republicans personally know a transgender person.
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