Republican lawmakers in Texas are facing opposition from medical groups over a proposed bill that would block transgender children from accessing hormone therapies and puberty blockers. Senator Donna Campbell is championing a bill that would restrict such treatments, claiming that they lack sufficient scientific evidence to guarantee their safety and effectiveness. However, medical associations, doctors, and transgender Texans argue that the proposed ban ignores the benefits of such treatments in improving mental health and saving lives. Studies have shown that puberty blockers and hormone therapies can reduce anxiety and depression and improve the well-being of transgender youth receiving transition-related medical care.
The Senate passed a similar bill in 2021, but it failed to make it past the Texas House. This year, however, House Bill 1686 has attracted a majority of House members as co-authors, and lawmakers are debating the bill in committees. In March, the Senate State Affairs Committee also advanced Campbell’s bill, SB 14, to the full Senate. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has placed the matter among the Senate’s priorities for this year. During Senate committee hearings on these bills, Republican activists and lawmakers have made anti-trans remarks primarily targeting doctors and their practices.
Medical practitioners and institutions recommend hormone therapy for trans children who can give informed consent, usually at around age 16. They also recommend waiting until that age for transgender surgery involving sex organs, which is almost never performed on children. Meanwhile, parents and doctors decide together on relevant medical practices and treatments for transgender children, while adhering to care timelines recommended by major medical associations. Medical providers also discourage pushing young people to identify as transgender, socially transition, or begin medical treatments.
Critics of the proposed ban and similar bills claim that they jeopardize the mental health and well-being of transgender individuals, who are ten times more likely to attempt suicide than their cisgender peers in the United States. However, supporters argue that the bill aims to safeguard children and to prevent medical practitioners from exploiting a “social contagion.” The debate in Texas over transgender rights and medical care has drawn high emotions and political divisions, reflecting broader trends in the US.
While Senator Campbell claimed that puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and surgery are permanent treatments, medical associations assert that puberty blockers are reversible after treatment, and hormone therapies are partially reversible. Surgeries involving the breasts and chest are possible for minors only in certain circumstances after doctors weigh the patient’s situation with their family’s support, typically around ages 16 or 17. Furthermore, bottom surgeries involving genitals are rare or nonexistent for children. Critics of transition-related care claim that most children will outgrow gender dysphoria with appropriate counseling, while proponents question the reliability and size of studies that suggest around 80% of children with gender dysphoria eventually detransition.
As Texas lawmakers continue to debate the proposed ban and similar bills, medical associations and advocates argue the importance of affirming and respecting transgender youth and adults. Meanwhile, trans individuals continue to face discrimination and prejudice in various aspects of their lives, including in health care, education, employment, and housing.