Texas Republicans on Monday backtracked and voted in opposition to a measure they had previously supported. Instead of allowing transgender kids who already receive gender-affirming care, specifically medications like puberty blockers, to continue accessing their life-saving medical treatments after a new law that will outlaw care for all minors in the state goes into effect, state senators voted to deny kids their care.
After the GOP-led Senate agreed to allow kids who by June are already taking puberty blockers and hormone therapy to continue using them, the Senate voted on Monday to expand the restrictions in GOP-sponsored SB 14, which disallows all gender-affirming care for all Texans under 18.
In a 19-11 party-line vote, Republicans advanced the measure that, the Texas Tribunereports, is a legislative priority for the state’s lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick.
Major professional medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association, approve of gender-affirming care. In addition, experts know that transgender kids who receive affirming healthcare services have lower rates of depression and suicide.
The bill’s sponsor also succeeded in moving the bill’s effective date from December to September.
To ensure that more transgender children could receive essential health care, Democratic State Sen. José Menéndez fought to keep the exceptions in place.
“There’s extensive data showing that hormone therapy withdrawal symptoms can be and are very difficult to cope with,” Menéndez told the Tribune. “I’m not sure, after the hearing where we — Senator Campbell and I — sat through, why we would want to pull the rug out from under people.”
The Texas Medical Association had urged lawmakers to allow transition-related medical treatments such as hormone therapy and puberty blockers to be continued for trans youth in the context of discussions on the bill.
Equality Texas’ CEO Ricardo Martinez expressed to the Tribune his disappointment with the developments.
“Last week, we saw a small glimmer of compassion when Senators were willing to accommodate trans kids who are already receiving medical care by allowing them to continue with their treatment plans. Today, the Senate deleted its last hint of kindness from the record,” he said in a statement.
(Photo above: Opponent of the bill, Democratic State Sen. José Menéndez (left) and Republican State Sen. Donna Campbell, the author of the bill (right).)