Texas House debates ban on transgender youth healthcare

With songs and with cheers, activists gathered at the Texas State Capitol Tuesday to voice opposition to legislation that they claim is driven by hate.

"Gender-affirming care is lifesaving care," said a pastor during a rally in the Capitol Rotunda.

SB 14 prohibits procedures and treatments for gender transitioning, gender reassignment, or gender dysphoria for Texans under 18. The ban includes the use of puberty blockers and hormone treatments. Medical providers could lose their licenses for doing the procedures.

Those opposed to the bill claim the legislation is government intrusion in a private matter.

"People are really just trying to have bodily autonomy, they are to make decisions for their own lives and for the government to come in and interfere with that choice of how people want and feel in their bodies, it is really hard, and it's a hard issue to talk about in a legislative sense," said Mari Bier who is opposed to SB14.


Talking about the issue was also difficult for Jonathan Saenz, the leader of the conservative group Texas Values. When Saenz walked up the stairway outside the House Chamber, transgender activists flashed hand insults, shouted and lunged at him while he recorded a social media video.

"For a minute, they were singing about love and Jesus. But as soon as I walked by with my message of support for kids and common sense, I was met with aggression, I was met with threats and I was met with real hate," said Saenz.

At least one activist was removed from the Capitol after unfurling a banner in the rotunda. Those against SB 14 claim they're fighting to protect children, but it’s also the same argument Saenz makes.

"There is no way that a child can make this decision. We don't allow kids to smoke. We don't allow them to vote. A certain age gets into military service. We have those commonsense measures in place. And so and it's dangerous for kids to be involved in this. We don't even really know some of the outcomes long term. But we do know that when you remove certain body parts, you can never put them back," said Saenz.

House members spent the day working through several less controversial bills. SB 14 when it came up was challenged Tuesday afternoon by a point of order, which was eventually withdrawn.

However, an issue in the bill sent the legislation back to the House Public Health Committee to be corrected. The referral could delay the floor debate. 

When SB 14 is called up, procedural challenges are anticipated as well as amendments. One may involve allowing children already receiving these treatments to complete the procedures. That exemption, part of the original bill, was removed before being sent to the House.