Texas House panel advances bills banning puberty blockers and hormone therapy for transgender kids

Demonstrators march for Trans Day of Visibility in San Antonio last month. A Texas House panel on Friday advanced legislation restricting puberty blockers and hormone therapy for trans kids. (Blaine Young For The Texas Tribune, Blaine Young For The Texas Tribune)

Sign up for The Brief, The Texas Tribune’s daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news.

Recommended Videos

Texas lawmakers are a step closer to banning puberty blockers and hormone therapies for transgender youth after the House Public Health Committee advanced Senate Bill 14 and House Bill 1686 on Friday.

[What transition-related health care is available to transgender kids in Texas? Here’s what you should know.]

The committee voted 6-3 to approve the two bills, and they will now have to get through the Calendars Committee before getting to the House floor. The Senate has already passed a version of the legislation, and a majority of Texas House members have signed on to an earlier version of HB 1686.

The versions of SB 14 and HB 1686 approved Friday would require trans youth already receiving puberty blockers or hormone therapy to be “weaned off the prescription drug over a period of time and in a manner that is safe and medically appropriate.” The bills would also ban surgeries, though they are rarely performed on kids.

SB 14 author Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, at one point wrote her bill so that trans children already receiving puberty blockers and hormone therapies could continue their care. But she abruptly nixed that exemption after opposition from Republican leaders, saying there were too many questions about the change since it was not discussed in the committee hearing for SB 14.

[The eyes of LGBTQ Texans are upon Dade Phelan and the House]

HB 1686’s author, Republican state Rep. Tom Oliverson of Cypress, expressed support for those exemptions before they were removed.

“I’m committed to following the science,” he told The Texas Tribune earlier this week.

Versions of the bills advanced Friday do not add those exemptions back in identically, but they do let trans kids taper down their use of puberty blockers and hormone therapy instead of abruptly ending them. Medical providers could also lose their licenses for offering these treatments to trans youth who are not being tapered off.

Democratic Rep. Venton Jones, a committee member who is openly gay, was not able to attend the meeting to cast his vote. He said in a subsequent tweet that the bills’ advancement “saddened” him.

[Texas Republicans have filed dozens of bills affecting LGBTQ people. Here’s what they’d do.]

“I urge my colleagues to consider the real harm these bills are going to have on thousands of Texan families and hope this bill does not continue with passage on the House floor,” he said.

The two bills have also faced fierce public pushback. When the committee held its hearing for HB 1686 last month, fewer than 100 people registered in support of the bill while more than 2,800 people registered in opposition — with LGBTQ Texans and several medical associations saying that maintaining this care is crucial to supporting the mental health of trans youth.

“Trans children are not political punching bags,” Emmett Schelling, executive director of the Transgender Education Network of Texas, said Friday in a joint statement with other LGBTQ advocacy groups following the votes. “Everyone deserves access to comprehensive and competent healthcare informed by accredited medical professionals. These continuous attacks on healthcare serve as an example of political overstepping in order to dictate the personal and private medical decisions of Texans.”

We can’t wait to welcome you Sept. 21-23 to the 2023 Texas Tribune Festival, our multiday celebration of big, bold ideas about politics, public policy and the day’s news — all taking place just steps away from the Texas Capitol. When tickets go on sale in May, Tribune members will save big. Donate to join or renew today.

Recommended Videos