Multiple bills have been submitted to the Texas state Senate that would make providing or consenting to gender-affirming care for a minor a form of child abuse under Texas’s Family Code.
The bills are just a handful of the more than 800 legislative proposals submitted to the Texas legislature in anticipation of the new legislative session, which begins in January. The list of submissions is clogged with every form of culture war grievance one could imagine. They include bills that would ban trans athletes from K-12 sports, increase penalties for election fraud, institute a requirement that public schools teach that human life begins at conception, further restrict abortion access, and criminalize the possession of vapes on school campuses.
Despite Republicans getting walloped throughout most of the country, the GOP in Texas managed to eke out narrow gains in the legislature. Many of these proposed bills will not actually become laws, but the docket provides a window into the manner in which reactionary politics are worming their way into policy discussions. Nowhere is this more clear than in the state’s proposed attacks on trans people.
An obsessive fixation on transgender youth has taken over Republican politics in recent years, with pundits claiming that the transgender community is a predatory space intent on corrupting and harming children in order to increase their numbers. On Tuesday, former Trump adviser Stephen Miller tweeted that Americans “live in a country where it’s easier to get chemical castration drugs than Ivermectin.”
Studies have shown that access to gender-affirming care significantly improves outcomes for transgender youth. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health standards for care hold that supportive care with work alongside a mental health professional is recommended for young children exploring their gender identity. Adolescents, under the guidance of doctors and with the approval of their legal guardian, can explore medical transition through puberty blockers or hormones. Across the board, the WPATH’s standards for care call for rigorous psychological and physical evaluation before any sort of procedure is done, and major surgeries are not recommended until adulthood.
More than 30 states have submitted some form of legislation attempting to restrict the rights and medical freedoms of transgender individuals, and more than 155 bills were submitted in 2022 alone. Multiple states, including Arkansas and Alabama, have passed laws attempting to ban gender-affirming care to minors outright, resulting in pushback from civil rights organizations. The Florida state medical board, which is staffed through gubernatorial appointments, has restricted doctors from providing gender-affirming care to minors.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has already set the groundwork for bills criminalizing abortion care, issuing a February edict to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services instructing them to investigate the families of trans children as potential perpetrators of child abuse. Twenty-three medical associations and groups filed an amicus brief supporting the need for gender-affirming care in a case against Abbott’s order.
The blatant hostility against transgender individuals has already resulted in an increased climate and of violence against transgender individuals and their supporters. In September, a woman was charged with leveling a fake bomb threat at Boston Children’s Hospital, forcing an evacuation. The threat happened after days of right-wing pundits making sensational, and false, claims that the hospital’s Gender Multispecialty Service program was performing genital reassignment surgeries on “young girls.” This year alone, the Human Rights Campaign has tracked at least 32 murders of transgender and gender-nonconforming people.