Texas Republican attacks on trans healthcare may lead to ban on life-saving cancer treatment

A Texas Republican has introduced a bill that would make almost all gender-affirming healthcare illegal, even for trans adults.

State senator Bob Hall’s bill was filed on 17 February, and targets public funding for “gender-modification procedure or treatment”.

In practice, this would ban any surgeries performed on a patient’s genitals, as well as mastectomies, and the prescription of puberty blockers or hormones “for the purpose of transitioning a patient’s biological sex …or affirming the patient’s perception of the patient’s sex”.

Health professionals providing gender-affirming care would also face increased legal liability in any malpractice suits, if the bill passes into law.

The only care to remain legal would be “medically necessary gender-modification procedures or treatments to a patient who either “is born with a medically verifiable genetic disorder of sex development” or “does not have the normal sex chromosome structure” determined through genetic testing.

Unlike most of the hundreds of anti-trans bills being filed around the United States, Hall’s proposed legislation, formally labelled SB1029, has no mention of the ages of prospective patients.

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In the bill, the 80-year-old politician mentions a single 2018 video where a Vanderbilt University Medical Center administrator apparently promotes “gender-modification surgeries as financially beneficial”.

Hall, who has previously spoken out against LGBTQ+ people, states this as reason enough to believe that “so-called ‘gender-affirming’ treatments are not in the best interest of the health of the patient”.

Rachel Hill, the government affairs director at advocacy organisation Equality Texas, told CBS News she had not seen any other bills go this far.

“This bill bans any public funding for trans healthcare at any age and puts impossible constraints on medical professionals and insurance providers,” she said.

Meanwhile, Texas Health Action chief executive, Christopher Hamilton, said that if the bill was passed, it would have “a chilling effect, halting all best-practice medical care for all trans people in this state”.

Hamilton identified other issues with the bill, such as if a trans person needed a mastectomy “they may have to prove that it is for cancer care rather than what the bill calls ‘gender modification’.”

And he asked: “If a trans person with a uterus needs a hysterectomy for cancer prevention, will this person be denied because of the doctor’s fear?”

Texas is one of the states with the most anti-LGBTQ+ bills filed so far this year.

At present, 31 of 358 anti-LGBTQ+ bills lodged across the US have been filed in the state, according to the publically available LGBTQ+ Legislative Tracking, compiled by researchers.