Texas Enacts Law Prohibiting Gender Transition Procedures on Minors
Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) signed a bill to protect minors from gender transition procedures (SB 14) on Friday, concluding a three-month-long epic journey that encountered opposition at every stage.
Similar to its companion bill in the House, HB 1686, SB 14 forbids health care providers, “for the purpose of transitioning a child’s biological sex,” to “perform a surgery that sterilizes the child” or a mastectomy or to “provide, prescribe, administer, or dispense” drugs that “induce transient or permanent infertility,” such as puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones. It exempts hormonal treatments already begun but requires that minors “wean off the prescription drug over a period of time.” The prohibitions are enforceable by the attorney general and state licensing authorities. SB 14 also prevents insurance or state funds from financing gender transition procedures for minors.
Transgender activists were not about to allow such a bill to pass uncontested. On March 27, during a committee hearing for HB 1686, hundreds or thousands of pro-trans activists chanted for hours in an open-air rotunda before staging a “die-in” to obstruct the capitol’s hallways when the hearing concluded at midnight. On May 2, pro-trans protestors in the House gallery disrupted a vote on SB 14 with loud chanting, prompting House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) to order state police to clear the gallery. Among those taken into custody was a drag queen who flashed bystanders.
SB 14 also faced mounting opposition from pro-trans members of the Texas House. After sailing through a Senate committee (8-3) on March 20 and passing the full Senate (19-12) on April 4 in a party-line vote, House Democrats mounted more substantial opposition. After another month, the bill narrowly cleared its House committee (6-5) on May 2 and immediately faced withering fire from the Left. They filed non-stop procedural motions against the bill which, combined with the disruptive protests, delayed the vote three times (on May 2, May 5, and May 12), before it finally passed on May 15 (87-56).
Notably, several Democrats in the Texas House supported SB 14, continuing the growing trend of bipartisan action to protect minors from harmful, experimental procedures.
During its bruising journey through the House, legislators proposed at least 20 amendments to SB 14, most significantly in committee. The House Public Health Committee added an exception to the bill to allow health care professionals currently prescribing gender transition hormones to minors to continue to do so for a period of time. The Senate concurred in House amendments on May 17.
A coalition of transgender advocacy groups including Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, and Transgender Law Center declared their intention on May 18 to file suit to block the law from taking effect.
Last year in a nonbinding opinion, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) wrote that providing gender transition procedures to children “can constitute child abuse” for violating “the fundamental right to procreation,” causing “physical and emotional harm,” and breaking “consent laws.” Governor Abbott then authorized the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate parents on that ground. However, those administrative actions were halted in state court.
Texas becomes the largest state to pass legislation protecting minors from gender transition procedures. Before the 2023 legislative session, only three states had done so. Now, Texas becomes the 19th state with such a law on the books, following Florida’s law signed by Governor Ron DeSantis (R) last month.
Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.