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Austin City Council approves transgender protections. AG Paxton says not so fast.

A demonstrator holds up a sign that says "Leave trans youth alone" outside the state Capitol.
Sheryl Wong for KUT
Demonstrators hold signs in support of transgender youth at a rally outside the state Capitol in 2022. A Texas law banning transgender youth from accessing puberty blockers and hormone therapy went into effect in September.

Austin City Council approved a resolution Thursday aimed at protecting transgender people and their doctors from prosecution under the Texas ban on gender-affirming care for minors.

Within hours, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton released a statement rebuking the move, calling it an “empty political statement.”

“If the City of Austin refuses to follow the law and protect children, my office will consider every possible response to ensure compliance," he said. "Texas municipalities do not have the authority to pick and choose which state laws they will or will not abide by."

Senate Bill 14, which went into effect in September, blocks transgender people under the age of 18 from accessing gender-affirming treatments such as puberty blockers and hormone therapy. Under the law, doctors who offer these treatments can lose their medical licenses.

The resolution passed Thursday says city money should not be used to investigate transgender individuals seeking health care — or any individuals or organizations assisting them. The resolution also orders police to avoid investigations into gender-affirming care to the extent possible under Texas law, and to make such investigations their lowest priority.

The resolution mirrors Austin’s 2022 GRACE Act, which sought to effectively decriminalize abortion in the city.

“Our state has forced [transgender minors] and their medical providers into hiding and that is wrong. Austin should not be a party to that any more than we legally have to be,” said Council Member Chito Vela, who sponsored the resolution. “Austinites do not prioritize criminal enforcement of rules that limit medical decisions made between families and their doctors, whether that's a decision to terminate a pregnancy, or how to treat a child struggling with gender dysphoria.”

Only Council Member Mackenzie Kelly voted against the resolution, saying it invited the possibility of “costly litigation” from the state.

Olivia Aldridge is KUT's health care reporter. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on X @ojaldridge.
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