Chilling Texan bill defines parents of trans kids consenting to healthcare as ‘child abusers’

Protect trans kids sign

A chilling new bill in Texas would define the parents of trans kids who consenting to their affirming healthcare as “child abusers”.

Texas Senate Bill 1646 was filed on 11 March, 2021, and is sponsored by 13 Republican state senators.

The bill states that a person will be considered guilty of child abuse by “consenting to or assisting in the administering or supplying of, a puberty suppression prescription drug or cross-sex hormone to a child, other than an intersex child, for the purpose of gender  transitioning or gender reassignment” or “performing or consenting to the performance of surgery or another medical procedure on a child, other than an intersex child, for the purpose of gender transitioning or gender reassignment”.

The bill places Texas parents consenting to gender-affirming care for their trans kids alongside those who create child porn, sexually abuse children, give illegal drugs to children and those who facilitate forced child marriages.

Penalties for child abuse in Texas include jail time, fines, and removal of the child.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) staff attorney Chase Strangio wrote on Twitter: “This bill in Texas, SB1646, would remove trans kids from their homes if a parent affirms their gender. Truly barbaric.” 

The bill had its first hearing on Monday (12 April), and was referred to the Senate State Affairs Committee. A date has not yet been scheduled for its first public hearing.

In response, the Texas charity Doctors For Change wrote an open letter to state senator Bryan Hughes, who chairs the Senate State Affairs Committee, condemning the bill and its implications for both parents and healthcare providers.

It wrote that its “more than 1,000 healthcare provider members… vehemently oppose SB1646”.

The letter continued: “We care for Texans of all ages, including transgender and non-binary children, youth, and adults, and we are appalled by the blatant intention of SB1646 to characterise the provision of our compassionate, evidence-based care as ‘child abuse’ and to levy criminal penalties against providers who are putting the health and wellbeing of patients first, as is our duty to do, as well as parents/ guardians who are properly ensuring their children receive necessary care.”

The group also pointed out that because of mandatory reporting of child abuse, the bill would “mandate any healthcare provider report minors receiving certain care which would irreparably damage the trust and confidentiality of patient-provider relationships”.

Doctors For Change said it “strongly urged” committee members to reject the “harmful” bill.