New Texas bills aim to restrict transgender health care in 2023
Although Texas’ 88th legislative session doesn’t begin until Tuesday, some lawmakers have already weighed in on anti-LGBTQ issues and filed bills aimed at criminalizing gender-affirming medical care provided to children.
First, in November, Houston-area Texas state representative Steve Toth introduced House Bill 122, which would make it more difficult for transgender youth to access gender-affirming health care, including hormone therapies and surgical intervention. If passed into law, the bill would make such treatments a second-degree felony for medical professionals, each charge of which could carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, according to KVUE.
Toth also introduced House Bill 41, which would revoke professional liability insurance coverage from noncompliant health care providers. Toth authored a similar bill in 2021, but it never made it out of the House Committee.
Other lawmakers, including Texas state Rep. Cole Hefner, are seeking to classify gender-affirming care as child abuse, falling in line with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s legal opinion issued last February and the directive Gov. Greg Abbott directed state agencies to begin investigating families subjecting their children to “abusive gender transition procedures.”
Hefner’s House Bill 672 proposes to criminalize the use of puberty suppressants and hormone blockers for the “purpose of gender transition.” Hefner also introduced a similar bill in 2021 that never passed the House Committee.
The move to curb access to these procedures and medications has drawn criticism from activist groups such as Equality Texas, especially after a recent study by the Trevor Project found that LGBTQ youth in Texas experienced higher rates of suicidal thoughts than those from other states. others, according to a report by Lauren McGaughy in the Dallas Morning News.
“With a Governor openly campaigning to end transgender health care for youth, it’s no wonder LGBTQ+ mental health outcomes in the state have suffered,” Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas, told McGaughy.
More than 25 major medical organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association, issued statements opposing discrimination against patients seeking medical intervention to treat gender dysphoria and showing support for treatments in certain specified cases. According to the Texas Medical Association, more than 20 years of evidence supports the claim that gender-affirming care is the best way to care for young patients with gender dysphoria.