Texas Republicans have targeted transgender people several times in recent sessions. Already, there is a wave of bills aimed at gender-affirming health care.
House Bill 42, filed by Rep. Bryan Slaton, R-Royse City, would expand the state’s definition of child abuse to include providing gender-affirming health care under the guidance of a doctor or mental health care provider. The Legislature declined to pass a similar bill last session.
House Bill 112, filed by Rep. Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands, would also criminalize gender-affirming health care. In particular, the legislation would bar health care providers from offering various gender-affirming procedures and treatments for children, including puberty blockers and testosterone or estrogen doses. Violations could result in a second-degree felony. Toth also introduced this proposed ban in House Bill 41, which would also take away professional liability insurance policy from providers who offer these treatments.
Gender-affirming care is recommended by all major medical associations to treat gender dysphoria, the distress someone can feel when their physical presentation does not align with their gender identity. For teens and youth, gender-affirming care is often limited to social transition — using different pronouns or wearing different clothes — but can include puberty blockers, which are fully reversible, and hormone therapy.
In February, Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a nonbinding legal opinion that equated gender-affirming care with child abuse, prompting Gov. Greg Abbott to direct the state’s child welfare agency to investigate parents. Those investigations are largely blocked by court order, but if state law changed, they could potentially resume. — Sneha Dey, Eleanor Klibanoff and Alex Nguyen
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