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March 16, 2023
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(AUSTIN) — Doctors would no longer be able to prescribe puberty blockers, hormone therapy, or perform sex reassignment surgery on Texans under the age of 18 under a bill heard by the Senate State Affairs Committee on Thursday, the second major bill related to gender issues considered before the panel this week. SB 14, by New Braunfels Senator Donna Campbell, would put a doctor's license in jeopardy if they prescribe what is known in the medical community as "gender affirming care" in the form of drugs or surgery. Campbell says that this is a question of protecting children from irreversible decisions made before they are of an age to fully understand the implications. "To apply permanent changes or give medications that can easily, if taken long enough, be permanent for an image that may be temporary, I think is careless and is not in the best interest of a child," she said.

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New Braunfels Senator Donna Campbell's bill would ban the use of gender therapies like hormones, puberty blockers, and surgery for minors.

Campbell said she believes that well meaning parents are being misled by some clinicians, who she says are being told that without this care, their child is at an increased risk for suicide. Campbell says that when controlled for associated disorders, like depression or eating disorders, there is no difference in suicide rates between minors who receive gender affirming care and those who do not. Her bill would make it illegal to prescribe puberty blockers for the purposes of gender transition. Transgender advocates say that delaying the onset of puberty puts off what can be a traumatic process for children with gender dysphoria, but Campbell says that these drugs aren't being used the way they were meant to. Approved for treatment of precocious puberty, Campbell says that they are only used to delay the onset of puberty for a few years, and are used much longer for gender therapy, where they can cause issues with bone density, height, and gonadal development.

Her bill would also ban the use of hormone replacement therapy in minors and any removal of healthy tissue for the purpose of gender therapy. The bill does not address non-medical interventions or counselling, nor does it apply to adults. "At 18, they can go get a tattoo and they can go get their surgery if they want," she said. Six states have already adopted a ban on gender affirming care for minors, with almost a dozen more considering such legislation.

Senator José Menéndez of San Antonio said that the bill was a sharp departure from the Senate's normal position of parental empowerment. "We always talk about parental consent, about the involvement of the parents," said Menéndez "But it strikes me that your bill seems to get between the parent and their relationship with their child." Campbell said that when doctors are doing harm to their patients, the government needs to step in.

A 2019 UCLA study estimated that there are just under 30,000 Texans between age 13 and 17 that identify as transgender.

The committee also approved a bill they took testimony on late Monday, SB 15 by Senator Mayes Middleton of Galveston, that would require that collegiate athletes compete in sports divisions that match the sex listed on their birth certificate. The Legislature passed a bill that would do this for the high school level last session, but Middleton said that women's sports need to be protected at the college level. Competitors who were born male but perform in female leagues, he says, threaten the sanctity of a space that women have fought hard to carve out for themselves. "When we consider the physiological difference between men and women in the context of athletic competitions, biological men and women cannot fairly compete against each other, and that invariably takes away opportunity for female athletes," said Middleton. Approved Thursday, the bill will now head to the full Senate for consideration.

The Senate will reconvene Monday, March 20 at 3 p.m.

Session video and all other Senate webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's Audio/Video Archive.