Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed SB 14 on Friday, which bans gender-affirming care for minors and places restrictions on children already taking gender-affirming prescription drugs. The law becomes effective on September 1, 2023.
SB 14 provides that child health plans may not provide coverage for services intended to “transition a child’s biological sex as determined by the child’s sex organs, chromosomes, and endogenous profiles.” Additionally, the law makes it unlawful for healthcare providers to provide gender-affirming care if the care is for the purpose of transitioning the child or “affirming the child’s perception of the child’s sex if that perception is inconsistent with the child’s biological sex.” This includes gender-affirming surgeries and prescribing gender-affirming drugs. Physicians can lose their license for performing unlawful gender-affirming care, and the state attorney general can enforce the law by enjoining physicians before the care is provided.
Under the law, with the consent of the child’s parents or guardians, doctors can provide puberty suppression drugs for minors experiencing early puberty and can provide procedures and treatment for children with medically verifiable genetic disorders of sex development.
Minors can continue taking gender-affirming prescription drugs if they are part of a continuing course of treatment that began before June 1, provided that the minor attended 12 or more mental health counseling or psychotherapy sessions before the treatment started.
The law contains several provisions relating to physicians losing their ability to practice in Texas. Doctors are prohibited from practicing if they perform an abortion during the third trimester unless it is necessary to save the life of the woman, the “unborn child” has a severe, irreversible brain impairment or the woman is diagnosed with a significant likelihood of suffering imminent, irreversible brain damage or paralysis.
The ACLU has stated that it will file a lawsuit challenging the new law. In response to the bill, the ACLU stated:
Texas Senate Bill 14 bans the only evidence-based care for gender dysphoria for transgender people under 18 and aims to strip doctors of their medical licenses for providing their patients with the care they know to be medically necessary. Texas lawmakers have ignored the warnings of transgender youth, their families, and the medical establishment about the harms of this law.