A Texas Bill Would Outlaw Almost All Gender-affirming Care, Including Care For Trans Adults

LGBTQ+ advocates in Texas are alarmed by a bill presented in the state’s Senate, which they claim would outlaw almost all gender-affirming medical care, including surgical and nonsurgical procedures – even for trans adults.

According to Rachel Hill, the government affairs director of the advocacy group Equality Texas, “we’ve seen other legislation that would criminalize life-saving medical care for trans individuals, but none go as far as this.”

Hill continued, “This bill prohibits any public funding for transgender health treatment at any age and imposes insurmountable restrictions on doctors and insurance companies.”

The bill, S.B. 1029, was introduced on February 17 by Republican state Sen. Bob Hall. It would prohibit “public funding for gender modifications and treatments,” forbid some health plans from covering “a gender modification procedure,” and subject those who provide gender-affirming medical care to increased liability through malpractice lawsuits.

Any operations on a patient’s genitalia, mastectomies, and hormone or puberty blocker prescriptions “with the aim of transitioning a patient’s biological sex… or affirming the patient’s view of the patient’s sex” are all listed as gender-affirming treatments under the law.

CBS News has contacted Hall’s office several times but has not received a response.

Nearly 100,00 Trans People Will Be Affected By This Bill

The CEO of Texas Health Action, a nonprofit organization that works to provide health services to the LGBTQIA+ community, Christopher Hamilton, told CBS News that the proposed legislation would have a chilling effect and stop all best-practice medical care for all trans people in this state, regardless of age.

“Nearly 100,000 trans people in the state would be affected if this bill passes, as insurance companies would no longer cover gender-affirming care, malpractice insurers would no longer provide malpractice insurance to providers, and doctors would not assume a personal financial lifetime liability for providing gender-affirming care.”

According to Equality Texas, Texas has so far introduced more than 70 anti-LGBTQ+ measures during the 2023 legislative session. Critics claim that despite legal obstacles keeping the majority of measures from becoming laws, they stigmatize and marginalize transgender individuals.

Although S.B. 1029’s presentation is considered a sign of a bigger plan to politicize trans problems and access to healthcare, it would undoubtedly face legal challenges and some advocates concede that it would not pass.

If a trans person needs a mastectomy because of cancer, they could have to show that the procedure is actually necessary for cancer treatment rather than what the bill refers to as “gender alteration,” according to Hamilton. Will a doctor refuse to perform a hysterectomy on a trans person with a uterus if it is necessary for cancer prevention?

The American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics have taken a position against what the AMA refers to as “governmental intrusion into the practice of medicine that is damaging to the health of transgender and gender-diverse children and adults.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott gained notoriety in 2022 when he instructed the state’s health organizations to report and look into gender-affirming care for trans youngsters as possible “child abuse” As numerous families filed a lawsuit, a Texas court blocked the order.

In the letter, Abbott listed as examples of “abusive” procedures: “mastectomies, reassignment surgeries that can result in sterilization, removal of otherwise healthy body parts, administration of puberty-blocking drugs, or supraphysiologic doses of testosterone or estrogen.” These procedures would all be prohibited under the new law.

The removal of any avenue for patients to receive safe, cutting-edge medical care without an outright prohibition, as Texas did with reproductive rights, is what makes this law so disturbing, according to Hamilton.

Dan Patrick, the lieutenant governor of Texas, recently unveiled his legislative agenda for 2023, which includes proposals to ban transgender athletes from competing in collegiate sports and to stop treating young individuals who are transitioning their gender. Because they “essentially mirror the principles embraced by the conservative majority of Texans,” according to Patrick, Texans accept his initiatives.

Early gender-affirming care is essential to the overall health and well-being of trans and nonbinary youth, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “as it allows the child or adolescent to focus on social transitions and can increase their confidence while navigating the healthcare system.”

According to experts, transgender people’s access to gender-affirming medical care can be a matter of life or death. According to a 2022 UCLA study, the proportion of female to male respondents who tried suicide in the Pediatrics study was over 51%, which is much higher than the national norm for young people.

In recent years, issues affecting trans youth and adults, including access to health care, participation in sports, and other matters have become the center of intense political debate in the United States. Republican lawmakers from more than two dozen states have been working to pass laws that would either severely restrict or outright prohibit access to gender-affirming care and other resources.

According to Ash Hall, a policy and advocacy specialist with the ACLU of Texas, “by submitting this legislation, lawmakers are playing politics with the real lives of transgender persons in our state.”

“Even discussing this measure would have disastrous effects on mental health,” Hall continued.

The Texas state Senate’s secretary received S.B. 1029 on February 17. At this time, no additional action has been made public.

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