Texas Lawmakers Advance Legislation to Prohibit Gender Treatment for Minors, Rework Definition of Child Abuse

In this Dec.13, 2018 photo, Laura, a transgender girl, looks from behind a glass door during recess at the Amaranta Gomez school in Santiago, Chile.
Esteban Felix/AP Photo

State lawmakers in Texas have advanced legislation to protect children from life-altering drug treatment and surgery in the name of gender identity.

Senate Bill 1646 would expand the legal definition of child abuse to include puberty-blocking medication, hormones, and surgery for individuals under 18 years of age.

The Austin American Statesman reported on the bill, which is similar to legislation that has been crafted, debated, and in some cases advanced in 30 states:

Parents who allow such treatments risk removal of their children by Child Protective Services, said the bill’s author, Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock. The goal is to delay treatment until at least age 18, when transgender Texans are in better position to make life-altering decisions, he said.

“Once puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones are given to a child, they are almost guaranteed to fully transition,” Perry said on the statehouse floor. 

“When adults give children these drugs, they are setting a path the children may not have chosen and a path that may never be able to be reversed,” Perry said.

The Statesman’s report continued:

Doctors who treat transgender patients have testified at Capitol hearings that puberty blockers are reversible, delaying the onset of physical changes to allow time for transgender Texans to consider more permanent options.

Hormone therapy involving testosterone and estrogen introduce body changes that are permanent and are generally recommended after age 16, the doctors testified, adding that castration, vasectomies or hysterectomies are not offered until around age 18 and never to young children.

Several Democratic senators said Tuesday that they will wait until the final vote Wednesday to speak against the bill, although several made their strong opposition known.

Democrat Sen. Jose Menéndez called the bill “an unnecessary state overreach that would intrude on parental rights and endanger the mental health and well-being of transgender youths,” the Statesmen reported.

Democrat Sen. John Whitmire questioned Perry’s knowledge of so-called transgender health care, according the report. Whitmore said to Perry:

I live and work with the transgender community and I’m still learning, and I’m not an expert, but you stand up here like you know what you’re talking about. What is your expertise to deal with the complex subject of intervening in transgender families that just want to be left alone?

The Senate bill was given initial approval on an 18-13 vote.

The companion legislation, House Bill 1399, was approved by a committee two weeks ago and is waiting for a vote by the full House. The House bill would ban doctors from offering puberty blockers, hormone therapy, or surgery for Texans who are 17 or younger.

Similar legislation from Republican state Sen. Bob Hall, SB 1311, has received committee approval but is not yet available for a Senate floor vote.

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