Lawmakers consider bills targeting transgender Texans
AUSTIN, Texas - Lawmakers are debating several bills that could affect the lives of transgender Texans.
That includes bills that could keep minors from accessing gender-affirming care and target doctors who choose to help them.
If passed, one bill would revoke the licenses of doctors who provide anyone under 18 years old medical treatments specifically for the purpose of transitioning.
Senators took up the matter Thursday in Austin.
Transgender Texans and their supporters were there too.
"It's funny that we're in this fight right now in a state that prides itself on the freedom, the autonomy," said Emmett Schelling, executive director of the Transgender Education Network of Texas.
Transgender Texans and their allies held a rally at the state capitol in Austin Thursday to speak out against a host of bills that target the LGBTQ community.
"These bills directly target transgender children," Remington Johnson said.
Inside the Senate chamber, the Committee on State Affairs discussed several bills that, if passed, effectively ban transition-related care for queer youth in Texas.
"It's a real slippery slope when they start picking and choosing which sets of guidelines we get to follow and which ones we don't. What's next," said Dr. Jessica Zwiener, who specializes in medical care of transgender individuals.
"You have a lot of different bills under consideration," said David Coale, who is a constitutional law attorney.
Senate Bill 14, authored by a slate of Republican lawmakers, would revoke the licenses of doctors who provide anyone under 18 years old with puberty blockers, hormone therapy, or other medical treatments, specifically for the purpose of transitioning. And it would withhold public dollars from hospitals that provide such care.
SB 250 would bar insurance companies from covering puberty blockers or hormone therapies.
"What you're seeing in the legislature now is a wide range of bills being introduced that cover soup to nuts, that cover everything from what goes on a birth certificate to very detailed financial questions about what can and can't be reimbursed," Coale explained.
Coale said the state is, in essence, setting itself up for a legal battle with the federal government.
"To potentially be challenged in court and to be weighed against whatever constitutional protection may ultimately be found for transgender children and transgender people in general," he said.
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A mother of a transgender daughter says she is worried about what that could mean for her 9-year-old daughter and others like her in Texas.
"She will be impacted, she will be harmed. Her normal childhood will evaporate and others like her will be harmed as well," she said.
If the bills are passed out of committee, they will go to the full Senate for vote.
If the bills pass both chambers, Governor Greg Abbott has signaled he would sign them into law.