Texas governor signs bill to criminalize child sex changes

The ACLU intends to sue to allow medical sex changes for minors.

Following approval from the Texas State Legislature earlier this month to ban sex change procedures and hormone therapies for minors, Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott greenlighted a new law prohibiting minors from being subjected to such treatment.

The ACLU of Texas decried the proposed legislation at the time, arguing that not allowing doctors to medicalize children in service to gender ideology is tantamount to "banning life-saving health care" for youth. By this, they mean that if children and teens aren't permitted to have puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, or surgeries to alter their appearance, they will kill themselves.

"Politicians who voted for this bill cruelly turned their backs on families, science, and the safety and lives of children," the Texas ACLU posted online. "Trans people have always existed and always will. This is not the end."

The Lone Star State is reportedly the largest of any state in the country to put such a prohibition into law. Activists have been pushing back against the bill since it was introduced in the legislature.

Senate Bill 14 bans healthcare providers from surgically and chemically altering children's bodies in order to give patients the appearance of belonging to the opposite sex or from stopping them from undergoing natural puberty. Such procedures will not be allowed for any individual under the age of 18, and those who break the new law may end up stripped of their licenses to practice. 

This new law, which commences on Sept 1, comes months after Texas Children’s Hospital revealed it is putting a stop to sex changes for minors in order to abide by an earlier order from Abbott directing state agencies to potential child abuse stemming from such practices. 

The initiative was supposed early on by then-Attorney General Ken Paxton, who was seen publicly voicing his opposition to the process and labeling it as child abuse in December 2021.

Earlier that same year, in July, Abbott reportedly proclaimed that the bill had no chance of passing in the Texas House. 

The new law notably makes some exceptions for its ban on the aforementioned procedures, including allowing for further hormone treatment for children who started receiving non-surgical treatments before June 1, 2023, and attended 12 or more appointments for mental health counseling or psychotherapy six months prior to being given drugs. It also notes that minors who are being given such treatments must be made to "wean" off it over time.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas has promised to sue should the bill be signed, and is joined by the Transgender Law Center. In a concurrent statement, the organizations argued the new law stands "in direct opposition to the overwhelming body of scientific and medical evidence" that supposedly argues that such procedures are necessary to ensure the health of the recipient. 

Texas will now be the sixteenth state to place bans on these types of processes, joining Nebraska, Florida, Montana, Missouri, Arkansas, Arizona, Utah, Oklahoma and others that enacted similar prohibitions.
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