AUSTIN (KXAN) — Five Texas families with transgender children as well as three doctors are now suing the state to block a law from going into effect that would ban young people from receiving certain health care options and put medical licenses in jeopardy.
This first legal challenge to Senate Bill 14 fulfills an earlier promise by a number of legal advocacy organizations. Those groups include the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, the ACLU, Lambda Legal and the Transgender Law Center. They previously announced they would file suit to prevent the law from going into effect on Sept. 1.
“To be clear, SB 14 is arbitrary, irrational and oppressive,” Paul Castillo, senior counsel for Lambda Legal, said during a conference call Thursday. “There is no lawful justification for interfering with the medical necessary provision of care that promotes the health and well being of transgender youth. Trans Texans and their parents have the right to access health care that they need, just like everyone else. Like we’ve seen in similar lawsuits already, we aim to stop SB 14 in its entirety and block the law from ever going into effect.”
According to SB 14, transgender minors would no longer be able to receive puberty-blocking medication, hormone therapies or surgeries to assist in their transition. Texas doctors who provide this type of care could also lose their medical licenses. The lawmakers who shepherded and supported this legislation argued these restrictions are needed to protect children. However, advocates for the transgender community called the law discriminatory and puts kids’ health at risk.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday in Travis County District Court named the State of Texas, the Texas attorney general’s office, former interim Attorney General John Scott, the Texas Medical Board and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission as defendants. KXAN reached out Thursday for comment from the named defendants — as well as the two Republican lawmakers who sponsored the legislation — and will update this story once any responses are shared.
The plaintiffs include PFLAG, the national LGBTQ+ support organization, and GLMA, which represents LGBTQ+ health professionals.
The five Texas families who are now part of the lawsuit are all listed under pseudonyms, including their transgender children who are between the ages of nine and 16. The organizations litigating this case released statements Thursday morning from some of them.
Mary Moe, who has a nine-year-old transgender daughter identified in the lawsuit as Maeve, said, “Because my daughter might need puberty blockers in the next few months, I am temporarily relocating out of state with her and my other child. Her father will stay behind to continue working in Texas. We all intend to return and reunite in our home once it is safe for Maeve to receive this care in the state. I am heartbroken to have to take my children away from their home and their father, even temporarily. But I know that Texas is not a safe place for my daughter if this law forbids her access to this care.”
Nathan Noe, a 16-year-old transgender Texan, wrote in a statement, “The idea of growing up as a woman felt so indescribably and inexplicably wrong, and I couldn’t picture myself as a young teenage girl. I was constantly unhappy. Being on testosterone has tremendously improved all aspects of my life. I am now able to focus on all of the positives of my life and experience my teenage years to the fullest. I am able to socialize and balance schoolwork without thinking about my gender all the time. I love Texas. This is my community. This is where my family lives. This is the place I grew up and I do not want to leave it because my government has decided to attack people like me.”
The lawsuit contends SB 14 violates the Texas Constitution in a number of ways, including infringing on a parent’s fundamental rights and interfering with physicians’ rights of occupational freedom.
During the regular session this year, Texas Republican lawmakers introduced several restrictions related to the transgender community. Gov. Greg Abbott ended up signing legislation that not only bans certain health care options for transgender youth as well as preventing transgender women from competing on female sports teams at the collegiate level in Texas.