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Texas Is Latest and Largest State to Ban Gender-Affirming Care for Trans Youth

Texas Is Latest and Largest State to Ban Gender-Affirming Care for Trans Youth

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott
Lev Radin for Shutterstock

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill to this effect into law Friday.

Texas has become the latest state and the most populous to ban gender-affirming care for transgender minors.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill to this effect into law Friday. Senate Bill 14 bans surgery, hormone treatment, and puberty blockers for the purpose of gender transition for people under 18, while allowing those procedures for treatment of congenital anomalies, early-onset puberty, and other conditions. Genital surgery is almost never performed on minors. The law goes into force September 1.

It includes an exception for young people who began treatment before June 1 but says doctors must wean them off any prescription drugs they’re taking for transition. There is also an exception for those who have had at least 12 sessions of counseling over six months. “But it was not clear whether doctors would feel comfortable continuing to offer that care,” The New York Timesnotes.

Violation would be punished by revocation of a medical license, and the Texas attorney general could bring a court action to “restrain or enjoin” health care providers “from committing, continuing to commit, or repeating the violation,” the legislation states.

Attorney General Ken Paxton, who like Abbott has taken many anti-LGBTQ+ actions, is temporarily removed from office while an impeachment trial proceeds regarding charges that he abused his position’s power to reward a campaign donor. The interim attorney general is John Scott, a former Texas secretary of state who is known to be conservative.

Last year, Abbott ordered that parents who allow their children to receive gender-affirming care be investigated for child abuse. The order was based on a legal opinion issued by Paxton. Most of the investigations are blocked by a court while a lawsuit against the order is heard.

There is likely to be a lawsuit against the ban on gender-affirming care. After legislators gave final approval to SB 14 last month, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, the national ACLU, Lambda Legal, and the Transgender Law Center said they will file such a suit.

Texas is the 19th state to ban some form of medical care for trans youth. With its action, nearly one-third of trans youth live in a state with such a ban, the Movement Advancement Project reports. Five states make it a felony to provide this care.

Other states that have outlawed some or all gender-affirming care for trans minors are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia. The Alabama, Arkansas, and Oklahoma bans are temporarily blocked from enforcement while lawsuits are heard. Several other states have proposed such bills, and one is awaiting the governor's signature in Missouri.

Texas has a population of about 30 million and is estimated to have about 30,000 trans residents between the ages of 13 and 14, according to the Williams Institute, a think tank on LGBTQ+ issues at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law. It is the second most populous state in the nation; California, which has declared itself a legal refuge for trans people seeking care, is first. Nine other states and the District of Columbia have “shield laws” like California’s, MAP notes.

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