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Texas House delays vote to ban gender-affirming care for trans kids

 LGBTQ-rights advocates hold a rally in the Texas Capitol rotunda on May 2, 2023 ahead on a vote on a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for minors.
Patricia Lim
LGBTQ-rights advocates hold a rally Tuesday in the Capitol rotunda ahead of a vote on a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for minors.

“Y’all means all!”

Those three words echoed through the Texas Capitol on Tuesday as more than 100 pro-LGBTQ rights advocates protested legislation that would ban gender-affirming care for minors.

The Texas House of Representatives was set to vote on SB 14, but lawmakers delayed the vote Tuesday afternoon and moved the bill back to committee.

A little after 3 p.m., lawmakers brought the bill up for debate on the House floor. Almost immediately, advocates in the gallery began chanting. Speaker of the House Rep. Dade Phelan then instructed state police to clear out all visitors. People for and against the bill filed into the rotunda,while LGBTQ+ advocatescontinued to chant.

Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, the chair of the public health committee for the House, recommended the bill be placed back in the committee for discussion. After a quick meeting, Klick and other members once again moved the legislation forward.

HB 14 will most likely be up for debate on the House floor later this week.

Advocates from across Texas gather at the Capitol

Amanda Richter drove to Austin from Houston early Tuesday to join the protest.

“We have been terrified,” Richter told The Texas Newsroom, explaining that her child in transgender. “We have been actively looking to leave the state, which sucks because this is my home state and I never thought I’d have to leave.”

Richter said Republicans in the Texas Legislature need to know their actions could have a negative impact on many Texans.

“There are so many of us that are going to be affected and they have not heard from enough people,” Richter said. “It’s our kids that are being affected, not theirs.”

Under Senate Bill 14, people under 18 years of age will not be allowed to access transition-related care such as puberty blockers or hormone therapy. Transition-related surgeries, which are also mentioned in the bill, typically only occur when patients are adults, and considered on a case-by-case basis for teenagers.

If the measure is signed into law, gender-affirming care practices would be banned, despite them being endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the Pediatric Endocrine Society, the Texas Pediatric Society, and the American Board of Pediatrics as best practices for care.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has made banning gender-affirming care a priority of this year’s legislative session.

Supporters say the measure is needed to protect children.

Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, the Senate author, has called her bill a “child protection act.”

“The children need counseling and love, not blades and drugs,” Campbell said in March.

The Texas Senate passed SB 14 in early April. Campbell introduced an amendment that would have allowed kids to continue care if they were already receiving it, but thendropped the amendment a few days later on the bill’s last vote in the Senate.

Martha Newsome, who came to the Capitol on Tuesday, said she’s seen firsthand how gender-affirming care transformed her 20-year-old grandson’s life.

“This is life-affirming care for him,” Newsome told The Texas Newsroom. “It has been since he was in his early teens and Jesse now laughs — he’s well again.”

Under the proposed law, Jesse would not be affected.

However, Newsome worries the Texas Legislature could move next towards expanding the ban to transgender adults, like in Missouri.

According to St. Louis Public Radio, last month the attorney general in Missouri “put forward emergency rules placing barriers to gender-affirming care for minors and adults.”

Newsome said that would destroy her family.

“They are already talking about do we need to move to New Mexico, Colorado?” Newsome said. “We are a very tight family … We support each other so much and my greatest fear is that I’m going to lose them to another state.”

Newsome came to the Texas Capitol with her College Station-based church. She said lawmakers need to look into their hearts before casting a vote to ban transition-related medical care.

“I would ask them to love — to really consider love,” Newsome said.

Copyright 2023 KERA

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán is the former Texas Capitol reporter for The Texas Newsroom.
Elena Rivera
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