Conservative lawmakers in Texas, Georgia and Kentucky are attempting to develop laws that would prevent trans healthcare from being administered to transgender youth in their respective states.
The proposals appear in response to a controversy in Texas generated by a disturbing custody battle between two parents who disagree on whether their 7-year-old is transgender. The Dallas case galvanized conservative and far-right media in October and spilled over into state and national politics, with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Sen. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump Jr. all weighing in on the issue.
Republican Texas Rep. Matt Krause stated he would introduce a bill that “prohibits the use of puberty blockers in these situations for children under 18” in the next legislative session. Kentucky Rep. Savannah Maddox, also a Republican, announced on Facebook that she was composing a similar bill for her state. She referenced the Texas custody case.
“I am a strong advocate for parents’ rights — but it is not the right of a parent to permanently alter a child’s gender or identity, even when based upon certain behaviors or the perceptions of a child’s mind which has not yet had time to fully develop,” Maddox wrote, in part.
Ginny Ehrhart, a Republican member of the George House of Representatives, stated the Texas case is one reason why she intends to introduce the “Vulnerable Child Protection Act” in Georgia’s 2020 legislative session. A statement announcing the forthcoming bill stated it would “make it a felony to perform radical surgery on, or administer drugs to, a minor child for the purpose of attempting to change a minor’s gender,” which Ehrhart claimed as “a form of child abuse.”
The statements made by Ehrhart and a number of other lawmakers, however, perpetuate the erroneous notion that transgender and gender-expansive children are routinely subjected to, as Erhart put it, “life-altering, irreversible surgeries and drug treatments that render them sterile and permanently disfigured.” In fact, medical guidelines call for treating gender dysphoria in pre-pubescent youth with a social transition, like the use of new pronouns, names and attire. Ehrhart maintained her bill would not impact social transitions.
Once a child enters puberty, and if the child continues to strongly identify with the gender of their social transition, transgender health experts recommend a puberty blocker, as experiencing puberty when suffering from gender dysphoria can be traumatic for trans and gender-nonconforming youth. With age, gender-expansive youth can explore other options such as gender-affirming hormones and surgery. The World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH) recommends delaying genital surgery until a person is at least 18 years old. Only a quarter of transgender people have had gender-affirming surgical procedure, according to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey.
Gillian Branstetter, a spokesperson for the National Center for Transgender Equality, stated it would not be “hyperbole to say each of these bills would carry a body count.”