Senate Bill 6 – the so-called bathroom bill – is working through the state legislature and grabbing headlines along the way. But while lawmakers debate what restrooms transgender people can use, another bill has been introduced in the Texas House to address healthcare access for transgender individuals.

State Representative Donna Howard, a Democrat from Austin, filed House Bill 943 to create a Transgender Health Advisory Committee. The committee’s goal would be to tackle challenges in care for members of the transgender community.

Joe McAdams, executive director of Texas Health Action’s Kind Clinic, which opened in Austin on Thursday, says input from the transgender community is important to understand exactly what challenges they face.

“What we’re applying is this model of care called informed consent,” McAdams says. “It’s essentially saying that if someone wants gender affirming care, whether it’s hormones or otherwise, they don’t necessarily have to go through a psychological battery of exams.”

McAdams says that while the clinic seeks to make gender-affirming care more accessible, it will still take a measured approach.

“That doesn’t mean that we don’t pay attention to the behavioral health needs. When you’re working with communities that are deeply stigmatized, you have to be mindful about making certain that you provide appropriate care,” says McAdams. “So it’s not hormones for all. It’s what is it that you want, how can we help and what other services do you need?”

The creation of a Transgender Health Advisory Committee could serve as another resource for services like the Texas Health Action Kind Clinic in understanding the needs of the transgender community.

“What I’d like to see, is an opportunity for the community to show up at these discussions in a robust way and really have a voice when we’re talking about transgender health care,” McAdams says.

Written by Emma Whalen.

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