Before undergoing gender confirmation surgery at age 17, Indigo Giles had to get approval from a doctor, a therapist and the hospital where the surgery would be performed to ensure there were no options left besides surgery. To even get to that point, Indigo’s father Neil said it took time-consuming research and several reflections as a family before going forward with the process.

The surgery’s impact was immediate, said Indigo, now 19, who identifies as nonbinary. They were able to wear the clothes they wanted to, and their confidence in school and with friends significantly increased. Most significantly, the surgery helped alleviate their severe depression caused in part by gender dysphoria — discomfort related to feeling a disconnect between one’s personal gender identity and the gender assigned to them at birth.

“These lawmakers think that we don’t know what we want with our own bodies…”

But under a slate of legislation moving in the Texas Senate and House, Indigo wouldn’t have been able to make such a decision until their 18th birthday. In fact, no transgender child in Texas would be able to pursue puberty blockers, hormone treatment or surgery for the purpose of gender confirmation.

Transgender Texas children, their parents, medical groups and businesses have vocally opposed  many of the bills lawmakers are pursuing. Equality Texas CEO Ricardo Martinez said Texas has filed more anti-LGBTQ bills this session than any other state legislature.

“It’s insulting,” Indigo said. “These lawmakers think that we don’t know what we want with our own bodies and we’re not able to say what we want and mean it.”

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House Bill 1399 would prohibit health care providers and physicians from performing gender confirmation surgery or prescribing, administering or supplying puberty blockers or hormone treatment to anyone under the age of 18. The House Public Health Committee advanced the bill Friday.

Protect transgender kids rally.
Photo credit: Arthur D. Foreman via Wikimedia Commons (image altered by publisher).

Senate Bill 1311 by Sen. Bob Hall, R-Edgewood, would revoke the medical license of health care providers and physicians who perform such procedures or prescribe such drugs or hormones to people younger than 18. The Senate State Affairs Committee advanced that bill Monday.

The Senate last week passed Senate Bill 29, which would prevent public school students from participating in sports teams unless their sex assigned at birth aligns with the team’s designation. While that bill would only affect students in K-12 schools, two similar bills in the House would include colleges and universities in that mandate.

SB 29 has been referred to the House Public Education Committee, which is slated to meet Tuesday and hear testimony on identical legislation that was introduced in the lower chamber. On Wednesday night, the chair of that committee told the Houston Chronicle that the companion legislation, House Bill 4042, is likely dead.

“That bill is probably not going to make it out of committee,” state Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, told the Chronicle. “We just don’t have the votes for it … But I promised the author that I’d give him a hearing, and we did.”

Last session, Dade Phelan, the Beaumont Republican who is now House Speaker, demonstrated a lack of appetite for bills restricting rights for LGBTQ Texans.

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“It’s completely unacceptable,” he said at the time. “This is 2019.”

Last week, Rep. Bryan Slaton, R-Royse City, tried to amend a bill on the House floor that would fund prescription drugs for uninsured Texans so that it would exclude hormone and puberty suppression treatments. That amendment failed after it was noted that existing bills were addressing such treatments.

Medical Associations Unite in Opposition to Anti-Transgender Healthcare Bills

In public testimony this year, transgender Texans and their parents have testified in near unanimous opposition to the bills. Several parents described their experience testifying as “terrifying,” worrying their testimony would be used against them should the bills’ penalties become law. Under Senate Bill 1646, which the Senate State Affairs Committee passed Tuesday night, they could be labeled child abusers for allowing their children to receive gender affirming treatment.

Click here to listen to a short Texas Tribune podcast featuring Maya Stanton talking about her experience as a transgender 10-year-old. 

That bill comes after Jeff Younger attracted the attention of Gov. Greg Abbott and other top Texas Republicans in 2019 after a dispute between him and his ex-wife turned into a court battle over whether he could oppose his child’s transition. Younger, among others testifying in support of these bills, emphasized young children’s lack of brain development and claimed parents and social media pressure children into identifying as transgender.

But experts say social media and social pressure have nothing to do with it.

“There’s literally zero evidence or research to suggest that that’s true,” said Megan Mooney, past president of the Texas Psychological Association.

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According to Mooney, children as young as 2 or 3 can develop ideas about gender identity. By 6 or 7, she said, their sense of gender identity is relatively stable.

For LGBTQ mental health support, call the Trevor Project’s 24/7 toll-free support line at 866-488-7386. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text 741741 from anywhere in the country to text with a trained crisis counselor. Read our mental health resource guide for more information.

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