Texas Supreme Court hears challenge to gender-affirming care ban

Advocates argued Tuesday in front of the Supreme Court of Texas that the state’s gender-affirming care ban violates the Texas Constitution.

By Elena Rivera, KERA NewsJanuary 31, 2024 9:34 am, , ,

From KERA News:

The Supreme Court of Texas heard oral arguments today challenging Senate Bill 14, the gender-affirming care ban that went into effect last September.

SB 14 blocks trans minors from accessing gender-affirming medical care, like puberty blockers and hormone therapy. It also revokes the licenses of any doctors who offer this care to trans youth under 18.

Texas families of trans youth sued the state and some Texas agencies last year, stating the law was threatening the health and well-being of their children and interfering with their medical treatment.

A Travis County judge granted a temporary injunction in August to stop the law from going into effect, but the state appealed, overturning the injunction.

Attorney Kennon L. Wooten spoke Tuesday on behalf of trans youth, their families, health care professionals and LGBTQ-affirming organizations PFLAG and GLMA.

She said the law “deprives transgender youth of equal rights and equal protection.”

Advocates gathered at the Capitol Monday as a public hearing on HB 1686, which would ban gender-affirming care for Texans under 18, took place in the Texas House Committee on Public Health.
Aurora Berry / Texas Newsroom

Gender-affirming care is supported by major medical associations across the United States as the best standard of care for trans youth experiencing gender dysphoria—a psychological diagnosis that includes “distress or impairment due to marked gender incongruence,” according to the American Psychological Association.

Gender-affirming care can include medical interventions, like puberty blockers and hormone therapy, or social interventions, like using correct names and pronouns. Gender-confirmation surgeries typically occur when patients are adults, and on a case-by-case basis in young adulthood.

The American Academy of Pediatrics supports “giving transgender adolescents access to the health care they need” and “opposes any laws or regulations that discriminate against transgender and gender-diverse individuals, or that interfere in the doctor-patient relationship.”

Wooten also argued the ban interferes with parents’ rights.

“The issue here is the state coming into the living room of parents and making decisions about care,” she said. “And that’s the problem. A parent ought to have the right to decide to have this medical care given to their children who are suffering, or the right to decide not to give that care.”

Attorney Natalie D. Thompson represented the Office of the Attorney General of Texas. She argued that parents do not have the right to supersede state law.

“Parents do not have a constitutional right to obtain procedures that are otherwise unlawful,” Thompson said. “If an adult wouldn’t have a right to obtain a medical procedure because it’s made unlawful, then parents don’t get to veto those same laws on behalf of their children.”

She said parents still do have the right to select their children’s medical care under SB 14, and what the bill does “is take certain medical interventions off the table entirely.”

Thompson said the state also believes the “medical profession is not entitled to regulate itself.”

The Supreme Court of Texas will consider the merits of both arguments and decide whether the lower court’s temporary injunction blocking the law could be reinstated.

The ACLU has also filed lawsuits in Ohio, Oklahoma, Indiana, Montana, Idaho and Kansas, among other states, challenging gender-affirming care bans.

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