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Texas lawmakers have already introduced dozens of bills aimed at caring for gender-affirming, transgender children and their parents.
Proposals are put forward by Republican lawmakers such as Senator Bob Hall, R-Edgewood.
“This is loving care,” Hall told The Texas Newsroom on Thursday. “(It) expresses our love and concern for children, to give them the opportunity to reach a maturity where they can make a decision for themselves.”
Hall’s bills are part of a growing effort to pass legislation banning gender-affirming care in GOP-led states.
According to an analysis by NPR, state legislators across the country introduced 306 anti-trans bills in 2020 and 2021. The overwhelming majority targeted trans youth.
While Republicans hold a majority in the Texas House and Senate, LGBT advocates in the state say that doesn’t mean their proposals are destined to become law.
Hall’s bills range from prohibiting insurance companies from covering gender-affirming care to revoking the license of a doctor who performs gender-affirming surgery on a minor. Its legislation would apply to those under 18, although Hall said there was talk of increasing it to those under 21.
He is also the author of a Senate resolution calling for an “end” to gender-affirming care in Texas.
“We don’t allow kids to get tattoos, drink alcohol, buy cough medicine at a drug store or smoke,” Hall said. “So why on earth would we let them cut off their body parts – healthy body parts?”
While arguments like this may make sense to some, research supports the importance of allowing trans children access to gender-affirming care.
According to the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, “Gender-affirming surgeries are associated with numerous positive health benefits, including lower rates of psychological distress and suicidal ideation, as well as lower rates of smoking.”
Meanwhile, Columbia University’s Department of Psychiatry said that transgender and non-binary children without access to such care have higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation than their cisgender peers. those with access tend to see a decrease in gender dysphoria, depression and anxiety.
Other bills before the Texas Legislature go after drag shows, designating them as sexually oriented businesses.
This would mean that minors would not be allowed to attend events featuring drag queens, and venues would be subject to investigations by the Texas Controller.
In all, more than 40 of these bills are being considered by state legislators.
“I find it alarming to see how many have been archived.” said Johnathan Gooch, director of communications for Equality Texas. “These bills target every aspect of the lives of LGBTQ Texans.”
Gooch told The Texas Newsroom that the proposals are part of a list of “invasive” legislation introduced by Republicans in the state government.
He said that there is a tendency for lawmakers to fetishize the lives of LGBTQ people and that their perceptions differ wildly from how these Texans actually live.
“Most LGBTQ Texans, quite frankly, are boring,” said Gooch. “They just want to get on with their lives, enjoy our beautiful state and eat good barbecue.”
Gooch said people pushing for restrictive policies are out of touch with what Texans really want — and there’s some data to back it up.
According to a 2022 poll by LGBT advocacy group The Trevor Project and Morning Consult, 45% of Texas voters support transgender minors having access to gender-affirming care.
Meanwhile, 31% opposed the provision of these services.
State Representative James Talarico, a Round Rock Democrat, said Republican lawmakers are focusing on the wrong priorities.
“We talk about the impact on trans kids and their families, which is horrible,” Talarico said. “But there is also an opportunity cost because we only have five months out of every two years to try to solve all the huge problems facing our state.”
He said Texans who support LGBT rights shouldn’t feel defeated after seeing what bills have been introduced and points to 2021.
That year, during the last Texas legislative session and the special sessions that followed, over 70 anti-LGBT bills were introduced. However, only one — a bill banning transgender athletes from competing on school sports teams that match their gender identity — has made it into law.
“We shouldn’t give up, because you can fight here in this building,” said Talarico. “It’s a Republican-dominated Legislature, bad things are going to happen, but there is absolutely room to weaken bills, kill bills, slow down bills, and there is room to change hearts and minds.”
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