Texas set to ban trans healthcare for kids and strip puberty blockers from users

Texas governor Greg Abbott speaking during a meeting.

Texas lawmakers have approved a blanket ban on trans healthcare for under-18s, in yet another blow to the LGBTQ+ community.

The state is set to become the largest in the US to ban gender-affirming care, after it sent Senate Bill 14, which prohibits medical organisations from prescribing gender-affirming treatments, to Republican governor Greg Abbott’s desk for his signature on Wednesday (17 May).

The bill sets out a ban on medical professionals administering physically reversible puberty blockers by imposing sanctions and threatening potential legal action against those who do.

Those already on puberty blockers will reportedly be “weaned off” treatment in what is described as a “medically appropriate” manner.

The bill also looks to prevent gender-affirming surgeries for minors – procedures that are not performed on anyone under the age of 15 anywhere in the US.

Some teenagers – aged 15 to 18 – may be eligible for gender-affirming surgeries, but only under exceptionally rare circumstances, according to the World Health Organization.

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Following the vote, which saw 19 in senators in favour and 12 against, Texas seems likely to become the 17th state to outlaw gender-affirming care, despite all major medical organisations opposing these kinds of bans.

Following the bill’s passage through the House, Republican senator Bob Hall told the Texas Tribune: “We are the legislature – our job is to protect people. We protect children against lots of things. We don’t let them smoke, we don’t let them drink, we don’t let them buy lottery cards… we are doing the right thing.”

However, in a joint statement with several pro-LGBTQ+ groups in Texas, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) condemned “disinformation” about gender-affirming care and other transgender issues.

Texas bills ‘deceitful and dangerous’

During International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, Emmett Schelling, an executive director at the Transgender Education Network of Texas, wrote that “fear tactics” used by Republicans are “as cruel as they are anti-Texan”.

Schelling, a father and trans man, added: “Our community is continuing to violently absorb the real-life consequence of hateful political rhetoric. We deserve to be safe, we deserve to be equal, we deserve to raise our families without harassment and threats – and we will not stop working to make that a reality.”

The HRC also accused Republican lawmakers of villainising the LGBTQ+ community to “manufacture hysteria from anti-LGBTQIA+ primary voters and donors”, which it said creates an atmosphere of “fear in the state“.

Other attacks on LGBTQ+ rights in Texas include bans on family-friendly drag shows for under-18s, which activists have labelled “deceitful and dangerous”.

In response to Republicans filing drag ban SB12, drag queen Brigitte Bandit attended a legislative hearing in a dress inscribed with the names of those killed in the Uvalde elementary school massacre and at a shopping centre in Allen, both in Texas.

“This is dedicated to the families of these tragedies who have been actively ignored by this legislature while they spend their time arguing about who can wear a dress,” she said.