Texas Legislature Prohibits Transgender Medical Treatment for Children

Against opposition from Democrats and strong protests in the Capitol this month, the Texas Legislature voted Wednesday to approve a bill that would ban hormone and puberty blocking treatments, as well as surgery for transgender children. The state is poised to become the largest state to ban transitional medical care for minors.

The final version of the bill included limited exemptions for transgender children who had received medical treatment prior to the bill's passage, though it also required those patients to “wean” themselves from medication for an unspecified period of time.

Bill would prohibit a doctor from performing a mastectomy or surgery that would sterilize a child or remove healthy tissue or body parts, or from prescribing drugs that would cause temporary or permanent infertility. Now head to the governor's desk.

The law is one of several proposals aimed at regulating the lives of transgender people being considered this year by the Republican-dominated Legislature: On Wednesday, the State House voted to advance a measure requiring athletes in state colleges to compete based on the sex stated on their birth certificate at the time of their birth.

The legislation, known as Senate Bill 14, is one of the most volatile acts of the state's biennial legislative session, drawing protests from transgender Texans and their supporters in the Capitol this month. State police arrested two people amid protests while the bill was being discussed at the Texas House.

House opponents twice delayed voting on the bill on procedural grounds before it was passed and returned to the Senate, where it was first passed last month. The Senate voted to agree with the House version and sent it to governors on Wednesday.

Even before the law was passed, Texas officials had taken steps to prevent transgender children from accessing transitional medical care. Last year, Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, directed the state's child protection agency to investigate parents for child abuse if their child receives such treatment. Some Texas family fled the state as a result, even while the investigation is ongoing sued in court.

At least 14 other states have enacted bans or restrictions on medical care for transgender children. Texas will be the largest state to do so. Based on estimates from the Williams Institutea research center reporting on the demographics of the LGBTQ community, nearly 30,000 transgender children between the ages of 13 and 17 live in Texas, which is about 1 percent of Texans in that age group.

The ban is part of a nationwide effort by Republican elected leaders to curtail medical care for transgender children, discussion of gender in schools and boring shows. Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida signed into law Wednesday banning hormone treatments and gender transition treatments for minors, and punishing doctors who break the law with up to five years in prison.

Supporters of the Texas law call the treatment “mutilation.” Opponents condemned the move as a political attack on the transgender community that will prevent people from receiving the treatment needed to overcome gender dysphoria. Treatment has recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The bill made its way to the governor's desk. His office declined to comment on this week's legislation. This will come into effect on September 1.

According to the bill, minors who have already received prescribed medical treatment will be able “for a specified period of time and in a safe and medically appropriate manner” to “wean” themselves from treatment.

But it's unclear whether doctors would be comfortable continuing the treatment. The bill gives enforcement authority to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Even before its approval, Mr. Paxton has initiated an investigation into “potential illegal activity” to at least one medical provider of gender transition care.

After Mr Paxton began looking for a provider, Dell Children's Medical Center in Austin, the center said doctors treating transgender children would no longer working there.