The Texas legislature Wednesday night voted to ban gender-affirming care for most minors, sending a bill to the governor’s desk that, if enacted, would put critical health care out of reach for transgender youth in America’s second-most-populous state.
Senate Bill 14 would block a minor’s access to gender reassignment surgeries, puberty blocking medication and hormone therapies, and providing this care to trans youth would lead to the revocation of a health care provider’s license.
The legislation was held up for days by protests and procedural delays by Democrats in the House. House Republicans approved an amendment that makes minor exceptions for children who had begun receiving non-surgical gender-affirming care before June 1, 2023, and underwent 12 or more sessions of mental health counseling or psychotherapy six months prior to beginning prescription drug care.
Children to whom those exceptions apply can continue their care but must “wean” off from the treatment with the help of their doctor. The Senate vote to agree to that change was the last step required for final passage.
“Here in Texas, we will protect our kids! Thank you to everyone who supported and helped pass my bill. I look forward to @GovAbbott’s signature soon,” bill sponsor state Sen. Donna Campbell tweeted after the Senate’s vote.
If signed by Abbott, the ban will take effect September 1.
Gender-affirming care spans a range of evidence-based treatments and approaches that benefit transgender and nonbinary people. The types of care vary by the age and goals of the recipient, and are considered the standard of care by many mainstream medical associations.
Though the care is highly individualized, some children and parents may decide to use reversible puberty suppression therapy. This part of the process may also include hormone therapy that can lead to gender-affirming physical change. Surgical interventions, however, are not typically done on children and many health care providers do not offer them to minors.
Some Republicans have expressed concern over long-term outcomes of the treatments. But major medical associations say that gender-affirming care is clinically appropriate for children and adults with gender dysphoria – a psychological distress that may result when a person’s gender identity and sex assigned at birth do not align, according to the American Psychiatric Association.
If Abbott signs the bill, it would make Texas the fifteenth state to restrict access to gender-affirming care for trans youth this year. Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill banning the care in his state Wednesday and Oklahoma placed their own care ban on the books at the beginning of May. Around 125 bills that target LGBTQ rights, especially health care for transgender patients, have been introduced nationwide this legislative session, according to data compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union.