Texas Senate committee considers bill to criminalize transgender child care

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On Monday, the Republican-led Texas Senate State Affairs Committee began considering a bill that would make it illegal for parents and doctors to consent or administer transition-related care to children. 

If signed into law, SB 1646 would criminalize transition care for children by classifying it as child abuse for parents and doctors — the same legal classification under Texas law given to parents who physically injury, sexually assault, or neglect their children.

Republicans lawmakers arguing in favor of the bill said transition care for minors needed to be classified as child abuse under Texas law because jurisdiction would cover both physicians and parents. Jill Glover, a counselor and member of the Texas Republican Executive Committee with a history of speaking out against gender reassignment surgery for children, was among the witnesses to speak in favor of the bill, describing to members a world where young impressionable kids were seeking treatment for gender dysmorphia after being influenced by social media apps like Tik Tok.

Testimony from transgender children and parents presented an entirely different and more grounded world, where decisions about a child’s health were painstakingly and methodically considered. 

Aaron Richie, a Missouri City father of a transgender child who wanted to start hormone treatment at the age of 13, spoke alongside other activists with Equality Texas outside the Capitol and said these complex decisions should be made by parents and medical professionals — not elected officials. 

“My wife and I researched the pros and cons and consulted with his pediatrician, his therapist, and his psychiatrist,” Richie said. “After months we came to the conclusion that this was the best option for him. This was the hardest decision I’ve ever made.”

Parents who testified during the committee hearing also described a similar experience that required various doctor’s notes and consultations. 

Two other bills, House Bill 68 and House Bill 1399, are also being considered in the statehouse. Both would ban gender-affirming healthcare for Texas youth.

Texas is among 16 states this year that have seen legislation introduced to criminalize or ban transgender youth health care. Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson vetoed a similar bill last week, arguing that the bill was government overreach. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics spoke out against these bills last month, calling the legislation “dangerous.”

“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that youth who identify as transgender have access to comprehensive, gender-affirming, and developmentally appropriate health care that is provided in a safe and inclusive clinical space,” said AAP President Lee Savio Beers. 

“These bills not only ignore these recommendations, they undermine them,” Beers said. “Instead, the legislation would allow policymakers rather than pediatricians to determine the best course of care for our patients, and in some medically underserved states, it could mean losing an already limited number of pediatric practitioners who care for transgender youth.”

Photo: Ted Eytan / Wikimedia Commons

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