Texas has become the 17th state to outlaw gender-affirming care for teenagers.
Republican Governor Greg Abbot signed a bill Friday banning puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgery for under-18s wishing to transition.
Medical providers who violate the law — set to come into force from September 1 — could have their licenses revoked.
Texas is the largest state to bring in the restrictions to date, being the second largest nationwide and has a large transgender community. Opposition groups have already blasted the law as ‘jeopardizing’ healthcare and vowed to file a lawsuit.
The above map shows the 20 states where restrictions on transgender care for minors have been brought in. Three of the states that have had their care bans suspended are Oklahoma, Arkansas and Alabama
Republican Congressman and author of the bill Tom Oliverson heralded the governor’s signing as ‘protecting’ children.
He said on Twitter, responding to the move: ‘Children in Texas are officially protected from harmful, experimental medical and surgical treatments for gender dysphoria.’
But activists have hit back. The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas (ACLU) slammed lawmakers, saying they were ‘hellbent on joining the growing roster of states determined to jeopardize the health and lives of transgender youth’.
They added that this was ‘in direct opposition to the overwhelming body of scientific and medical evidence’.
‘Transgender youth in Texas deserve the support and care necessary to give them the same chance to thrive as their peers,’ a spokesperson said.
The Texas law — called Senate Bill 14 — incorporates exceptions to the bans for minors who began treatment before June 1 or those who attended 12 or more sessions of mental health counseling or psychotherapy for at least six months.
But it says these patients should be ‘weaned off’ the prescription drugs over an undefined ‘time period’.
The measures were inserted by lawmakers in the hopes of avoiding lawsuits against the ban.
Estimates suggest there are about 29,800 under-18s who identify as transgender in Texas — the third highest number in the US behind New York and California.
The state also ordered child welfare officials to investigate reports of children receiving transgender care as child abuse. A judge has blocked these investigations.
The move comes barely two weeks after Nebraska also restricted transgender care for minors as more Republican states seek to block the treatments.
State governor Jim Pillen signed into law a ban on hormone therapy, puberty blockers and surgery for under-19s wishing to change their sex. In Nebraska, someone is defined as a minor until they turn 19 years old.
The ban will come into force on October 1 and exempt people with a ‘medically verifiable disorder of sex development’.
After signing the law — which also limited abortions after 12-week gestation — Gov. Pillen called it the ‘most significant win for social conservative agenda in over a generation of Nebraska’.
‘It’s about protecting our kids and saving babies. Pure and simple,’ he said while signing the bill while holding the five-day-old daughter of friends with his two oldest granddaughters standing next to him.
Texas Governor Greg Abbot, pictured, signed the bill into law. It is due to come into force in the state on September 1
At least 18 states have brought in bans on transgender care: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, South Dakota and West Virginia.
Florida has restricted the care via regulations or administrative orders, and Missouri is the only one that limits adult treatments.
Bans in three of the states — Oklahoma, Arkansas and Alabama — have been suspended by federal judges, however, while court cases are being heard.
Republican lawmakers nationwide have advanced hundreds of measures aimed at nearly every facet of trans existence this year.
That includes bans on gender-affirming medical care for minors, restrictions on the types of restrooms transgender people can use, measures restricting classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity, and bills that would out transgender students who want teachers to address them by the pronouns they use.
The Food and Drug Administration approved puberty blockers 30 years ago to treat children with precocious puberty, which causes sexual development to begin much earlier than usual.
Sex hormones — synthetic forms of estrogen and testosterone — were approved decades ago to treat hormone disorders or as birth control pills.
The FDA has not approved the medications specifically to treat gender-questioning youth, but they have been used for many years for ‘off-label,’ a common and accepted practice for many medical conditions.
Doctors who treat transgender patients say those decades of use are proof the treatments are not experimental.
Research has shown that transgender youths and adults can be prone to suicidal behavior when forced to live as the sex they were assigned at birth.