TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (Nexstar) — A state district judge is hearing arguments Tuesday and Wednesday to determine whether a new law that will soon ban transgender youth from receiving certain health care options should be blocked before the law goes into effect.
Five Texas families with transgender children as well as three doctors filed suit in July, marking the first legal challenge to Senate Bill 14 — a bill passed this legislative session that will prohibit transgender minors from getting healthcare to assist in their gender transition. That includes puberty-blocking medication, hormone therapies or surgeries. Texas doctors who provide this type of care could also lose their medical licenses.
Republican lawmakers who wrote the legislation argued restrictions on gender-transition care is necessary in order to protect children, who they say are too young to make possibly life-altering decisions. Advocates for the transgender community have described the law as already harmful to trans kids’ mental health and will put their lives at risk.
Those groups suing on behalf of familes and doctors include the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, the ACLU, Lambda Legal and the Transgender Law Center. 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.
“To be clear, SB 14 is arbitrary, irrational and oppressive,” Paul Castillo, senior counsel for Lambda Legal, said during a conference call when the lawsuit was first announced. “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.”
After the lawsuit was filed, two authors of the legislation — Rep. Tom Oliverson, R-Cypress, and Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels — released a statement expressing confidence that the law is on their side and dismissed the scientific credibility of studies showing the benefits of gender transition healthcare and risks of no treatment.
“The doctors who perform them are often ignorant of the research or indifferent to how evidence-based medicine works. A growing list of European countries are recognizing that these treatments carry serious, life-long risks,” the lawmakers wrote. “We believe that extraordinary interventions require extraordinary justification, and that justification doesn’t exist in this case. The State of Texas maintains its stance that there is insufficient evidence supporting continued medical experimentation on children.”
Day one of the hearing consisted mostly of witnesses called by the plaintiffs, including parents of transgender children and three board-certified physicians with experience working with pediatric and adolescent patients. The hearing will continue on Wednesday. Judge Maria Cantú Hexsel has not indicated yet how fast she may issue a ruling.
Will DuPree contributed to this story.