A group of Republican lawmakers in Texas has found themselves at odds with medical professionals over the use of puberty blockers and hormone therapies for transgender children. In recent weeks, lawmakers have introduced bills that aim to restrict or prohibit transgender youths from accessing transition-related medical treatments that have been endorsed by various medical associations.
Senator Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, is leading the charge on a bill that would prevent doctors from providing such treatments for gender transitions. During a debate on her Senate Bill 14, Campbell and other opponents of transition-related care criticized doctors who provide such treatments, stating that these medical professionals lack sufficient scientific data to prove the effectiveness and safety of these treatments.
However, medical groups, doctors, and transgender individuals argue that lawmakers are either misunderstanding the positive effects of transition-related health care on trans people or deliberately misinterpreting information to target an already marginalized group.
Puberty blockers and hormone therapies have been shown to improve the mental health of trans children, who are more likely to be depressed and suicidal than their cisgender peers. According to a 2015 report by the National Center for Transgender Equality, nearly 40% of the roughly 27,000 transgender individuals surveyed had attempted suicide, almost nine times the average rate in the country.
Dr. Jessica Zwiener, an endocrinologist in Houston who works with trans youth and adults, testified that her patients’ mental health dramatically improves once they start taking hormones. They become more outgoing, take better care of themselves, try harder in school, and are just generally happier.
Despite the proven benefits of transition-related medical treatments for transgender individuals, lawmakers are pushing bills that could prevent them from accessing these vital treatments. SB 14 and similar bills are part of a wider effort by Republican lawmakers in Texas to restrict the lives of LGBTQ Texans.
The issue is highly contentious, and both sides are entrenched in their positions. SB 14 has already made swift progress through the legislative process, and its fate now rests with the full Senate, which is expected to vote on it soon.