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Texas Senate votes to outlaw gender-affirming care for all minors

Signs say "Protect trans youth" and "Affirmation is not abuse."
Sheryl Wong for KUT
Protesters rally against the criminalization of medical treatment for trans kids in front of the state Capitol last year.

The Texas Senate passed a bill on Tuesday that would ban gender-affirming care for minors in the state. If the measure becomes law, it would also force those currently engaged in transition-related care to stop treatment in September.

The measure is the second this session targeting people in the LGBTQ community heading to the Texas House for the consideration.

Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, claimed the bill seeks to protect children from irreversible changes.

“Children who are on puberty blockers and cross sex hormones need more counseling in love,” Campbell said. “They don't need blades and drugs."

The final version of the bill approved Tuesday is different from what the Senate originally passed.

Last week, the Texas Senate approved an amendment that would have allowed transgender minors currently on gender-affirming care to continue with their treatment.

The amendment was introduced by Campbell — an emergency room physician — and had the support of the House author Rep. Tom Oliverson, R-Cypress, also a physician.

In a joint statement issued last week, the Republicans said they decided on the amendment in part because of the “likelihood that the ‘placebo effect’ alone would dictate that the rapid withdrawal of a medication that a patient believes is working would likely lead to a worse outcome.”

But on Monday, Campbell asked the chamber to reconsider the vote on the amendment and to drop it instead. The Republican-led Senate did.

“The amendment was not discussed in committee and a lot of questions have been raised," Campbell said Monday.

In its current form, the measure would ban gender-affirming care for everyone under 18, including those currently on puberty blockers and cross-sex hormone therapy.

Sen. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio, warned his colleagues during Tuesday’s final vote about the effect rapidly withdrawing from treatment could have.

“We know gender-affirming care is life-saving care because suicide is the second leading cause of death in young people,” Menéndez said. “We know that trans people who receive this care have a better mental health than those who are denied care.”

He also pushed back against Campbell’s false claims that there’s not enough scientific research on the benefits of gender-affirming care.

Transition-related medical care for minors is 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.

Research also shows the discontinuation of gender-affirming care can lead to physical and mental challenges.

During his speech against the bill, Menéndez spoke directly to transgender children across the state.

“I see you,” he said. “Please know you have a lot of life to live.”

To the parents of transgender children, Menéndez said “we know you are not perverts, you are not pedophiles.”

“You are parents who love your children, and you are doing the very best you can to keep them safe and to let them know that they are loved.”

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán is the Texas Capitol Reporter for The Texas Newsroom. Got a tip? Email him at smb@kut.org. Follow him on Twitter @SergioMarBel.
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