Potentially thousands of Texas children seeking to change their gender identity will no longer have access to puberty blockers, sterilization, and permanently disfiguring “gender-transition” surgeries in the state under a new law signed by Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott.
The Republican governor signed Senate Bill 14 on June 2, making the Lone Star State the most populous state to prohibit sex-change “treatments” for children.
The new law stands to be a major roadblock for advocates of transgender medicine.
It will stop the nation’s largest pediatric healthcare provider, Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, from offering “gender-modification” procedures to minors.
And it will prohibit three more of the country’s largest pediatric hospitals from offering services to children who want to change their gender.
Both Texas Children’s Hospital, with 973 beds, and Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, with 490 beds, currently offer gender-altering services to youths.
Halting Surgeries in Texas
The new law just signed by Abbott bans surgeries that sterilize children by removing parts of their reproductive systems. It outlaws mastectomies for girls hoping to live more like boys.
It disallows the prescribing of drugs that induce temporary or permanent infertility, such as cross-sex hormones. And it prohibits removing any otherwise healthy or non-diseased body part.
The Lone Star State joins 17 other states now restricting “gender transitioning” for children. The Texas law will go into effect on Sept. 1.
Almost 30,000 Texas teens—from age 13 through 17—likely have a “gender identity” different from their biological sex, according to a study by the Williams Institute, part of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law.
And nearly one in five people in the United States who identify as transgender are minors as young as 13, the study says.
Under the new law, children in Texas currently on hormones for gender dysphoria will have to be weaned off those drugs.
Doctors who perform gender modification on children stand to lose their medical licenses in Texas. The bill gives the Texas attorney general the ability to enforce the law.
The Republican-led effort to pass SB 14—a priority for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican—met stiff resistance from Democrats as it was debated in May.
GOP advocates of the bill said cross-sex hormones, puberty blockers, and surgery could cause irrevocable health problems or sterility in children.
Their Democrat counterparts argued that the decision to put children on hormone treatment and surgery should be left to parents, their children, and doctors.
Journalist Chris Rufo, an outspoken opponent of “woke” gender ideology and gender modification for children, posted an undated internal email from Texas Children’s Hospital CEO Mark Wallace on Twitter in May.
In the email, Wallace announced an “immensely heart-wrenching” transition to modify “gender-affirming care” offered to children.
Action will be taken over the next few months to comply with the new law that will “prohibit procedures and prescription treatments for gender transitioning, gender reassignment, and gender dysphoria” for children, Wallace wrote.
He wrote that the hospital would “work with patients and their families to manage the discontinuation of hormone therapies or source appropriate care outside of Texas.”
And the hospital, he wrote, will “continue to offer psychosocial support and any form of care we can within the bounds of the law” through “this adversity.”
He said staff would “navigate these next steps together with grace, love, and compassion.”
Wallace wrote that he wanted to “remind everyone that our mission is to create a healthier future for all children.”
He wrote that “being unable to serve and support these children and families the way we have in the past is painful,” and that the hospital would “remain dedicated to educating and amplifying the importance of safe, high-quality transgender medicine programs.”
And he asked for support, empathy, and care for children, families, and “care teams who are deeply affected by this new legislation.” He wrote that he wanted to “reassure care teams” who “have devoted their lives to gender-affirming care” that they are “deeply valued.”
Another large hospital, Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, will have to stop treating hundreds of minors with hormone “therapy.”
The hospital, part of the Children’s Health System of Texas, operates a gender clinic in conjunction with UT Southwestern Medical Center, also in Dallas.
The clinic, started by Dr. Ximena Lopez in 2014, is called the GENder Education and Care, Interdisciplinary Support (GENECIS) program.
Lopez, a pediatric endocrinologist, has said publicly that she will close her practice in July and move to California because of the new law.
State lawmakers, including Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton, have been pushing to ban transgender medical procedures for children for the past two years.
Paxton now has been replaced by an interim attorney general while he awaits a trial in the Texas Senate after being impeached by the Texas House.
Paxton has denounced the impeachment as based on untrue allegations that are politically motivated.
Before his current problems, Paxton was part of a campaign to apply enough political pressure to hamstring GENECIS in November 2021, when the clinic was closed to new patients.
The clinic was allowed to continue seeing existing patients.
After Lopez filed a lawsuit in March 2022 seeking to fully reopen the clinic, a Dallas judge issued a temporary order, allowing the clinic to continue seeing new patients until the case could be settled in court.
A request for comment from Southwestern Medical Center on the status of the GENECIS clinic was not immediately returned.
Local news outlets reported that 100 families with children signed up for care as soon as the clinic reopened.
Do No Harm
Dr. Stanley Goldfarb is chairman of the board for Do No Harm, a group that fights “radical” ideologies in medicine.
Texas’ new law is significant because it affects large treatment centers for transgender youth, Goldfarb told The Epoch Times.
Children who are confused about their gender need mental health care instead of surgeries or hormones, Goldfarb said.
“The vast, vast majority of these children bring with them a tremendous burden of psychological difficulty,” he said.
“I hope [the hospitals] pivot to the right kind of care for these children.”
Some pediatric hospitals operate on the theory that the reason children with gender dysphoria have psychological problems is because they haven’t had a chance to change their gender, he said.
Once the children are allowed to transition to a different gender, advocates think the psychological problems experienced by these children will go away, he added.
But evidence from several studies suggests that the opposite happens, he said.
“The literature doesn’t show their psychological problems will go away.”