On April 14, 2021, I testified before the Texas House Public Health Committee to urge Texas lawmakers to oppose House Bill 1399, a dangerous attempt to deny gender-affirming medical care to transgender Texans.
You can read the transcript of the full testimony I gave before the committee below, but here’s a synopsis: This bill, and two other bills like it currently making their way through the Texas Legislature — SB 1646 and SB 1311 — are unconstitutional and pose devastating and potentially life-threatening consequences to transgender Texans and those who love them.
These bills are extreme, harmful and unnecessary attacks against the transgender community. By blocking access to critical medical care, this legislation seeks to deny transgender people the right to exist. HB 1399 threatens to strip gender-affirming medical care from transgender youth and to take away liability insurance from any medical provider that prescribes essential treatments like puberty blockers and hormones. SB 1311 similarly seeks to ban medical providers from engaging in gender-affirming care. SB 1646 would make it “child abuse” for anyone in Texas to provide or consent to this medical care. This could result in kids being taken away from their loving parents or guardians and doctors being exposed to civil and criminal penalties for supporting transgender people.
Every major medical association recognizes that gender-affirming care is life-saving care. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Endocrine Society have both published clear protocols advocating for gender-affirming care for transgender young people. The American Medical Association “views these bills as a dangerous legislative intrusion into the practice of medicine” and openly opposes them. But on an even more basic level, these medical decisions belong to transgender young people, their parents or guardians, and their doctors and health care providers — not politicians or the government.
Even the fact that lawmakers are debating this issue is deeply harmful. Hateful rhetoric is spreading online and in the Capitol building, and transgender Texans and those who support them have put themselevs at risk to testify against these bills. When a similar ban on gender-affirming health care was debated in Arkansas, a pediatric doctor reported an increase in emergency room visits by transgender youth attempting suicide.
Bills like these should not exist. They could cost people’s lives by writing into law the prejudices of some Texas elected officials. Lawmakers should be actively looking for ways to address the real issues that Texans face, including the needs of transgender Texans and the very scary reality that Texas leads the nation in murders of Black and Latinx transgender women. Instead, legislators continue to inflict harm on transgender Texans and use us/them as a political punching bag.
We need to fight back. Become an advocate today to help defend the rights of all trans people in Texas, especially kids. Let’s make sure the Texas Legislature knows that gender-affirming health care is life-saving care.