Texas transgender rights
Parents of transgender children and other supporters of transgender rights gather in the capital outdoor rotunda to speak about transgender legislation being considered in the Texas House and Texas Senate. 14 Apr 2021 (Eric Gay/AP/Shutterstock)

Texas Bill Threatens Parents Who Support their Transgender Children With Jail Time

In another horrific example of just how far some Republican lawmakers will go to inject hate against LGBTQ individuals into state law, a group of Texas Republicans has drafted legislation that would penalize parents who support and help their transgender children access gender-affirming care with jail time — or even have their children taken away.

Dan Avery of NBC News has reported that “a bill heard in committee in the Texas Senate on Monday [April 12] would redefine child abuse to include administering, supplying or consenting to provide puberty suppression drugs, hormone replacement therapy or surgical or medical procedures to anyone under 18 ‘for the purpose of gender transitioning or gender reassignment.’”

The pending legislation would label such acts as a felony, comparable to physical and sexual abuse and sex trafficking.

The bill’s lead sponsor, Republican state Sen. Charles Perry claimed he felt no “ill will toward transgender people” and simply felt obligated to protect children “who have not reached the maturity to understand what is being proposed nor the impact on them in perpetuity.” He then vilified gender-affirming care as “not reversible” and “life-transformational and life-changing” treatments that trans children under the age of 18 shouldn’t have access to.

“God gave us a season in life, and it’s to have innocence up to a certain point and then, unfortunately, we lose that innocence,” he said during the hearing. “When parents interject things that rob them of that innocence and really rob them of a future, we have a problem.”

On the other side of the issue, research from numerous LGBTQ advocates, medical professionals and child-development experts has shown that gender-affirming medical care should be considered an essential right for trans youth and can improve confidence and self-worth while reducing depression and suicidal ideation.

Avery reported that “numerous leading national medical associations have come out against transgender medical bans, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommends trans and gender-diverse youth have access to ‘comprehensive, gender-affirming, and developmentally appropriate health care that is provided in a safe and inclusive clinical space.’”

“These bills interfere in the physician-patient-family relationship and would cause undue harm,” Avery said.

According to Brian Klosterboer, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, if the legislation were to pass, parents who violated the law could face two to 10 years in prison and have their child put in foster care. They could also be held liable to civil litigation.

Klosterboer said the proposed law “is part of a pattern of discrimination that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and others have tried to use trans Texans as a punching bag.”

He added that testimony used to support the bill included “a lot of lies about kids as young as 3 years old having surgery performed on them.”

“It’s just not true. It’s misconstruing the medical standards of care. We already have broad child abuse laws — there’s no need to rewrite them,” Klosterboer said.

Should the bill move out of the committee, it would then go before the full Senate for a vote on passage — where it would join a number of other anti-LGBTQ bills currently under consideration.

Avery has reported that “lawmakers in the state are also considering legislation targeting medical providers, as well as a trans sports ban and a religious exemption bill that could allow emergency room staff to refuse to treat LGBTQ patients.”

Whether any of them will pass, however, remains to be seen. Avery reported that “a similar bill in New Hampshire, which would have subjected supportive parents to an investigation by child services, died in committee last week.”

In a statement, Chris Erchull, staff attorney with GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), a New England-based LGBTQ legal advocacy group, called the measure “part of a harmful nationwide effort by anti-LGBTQ groups to create division and polarization by promoting laws that deny transgender people access to health care.”

In all, Avery said, “at least 17 states are considering legislation restricting anyone under 18 from accessing transition-related care, according to the ACLU.”


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