Opinion: Proposed Bills Will Harm Transgender Texans

Reporter believes laws to have devastating effects on LGBTQ+ community

Audrey+Schedler%2C+an+ally+of+the+queer+community%2C+poses+with+the+gay+and+trans+flag+colors+on+her+cheeks.+

Photo by Elise Laharia

Audrey Schedler, an ally of the queer community, poses with the gay and trans flag colors on her cheeks.

Across the nation, 28 states have pumped out anti-trans legislative proposals. 

Texas itself has introduced to the legislature at least 22 bills about healthcare, sports and religion that could threaten the safety of trans individuals, especially trans minors. 

Six of these bills would take away the ability of trans minors to have safe and easy access to medical care. There are bills that would prevent a physician from performing gender confirmation surgery or administering hormone therapy to trans minors by classifying these actions as abuse, allowing a physician’s license to be revoked due to these actions. They would also make the physician’s liability insurance unable to cover transitional care. 

This is a horrible idea, and should it come to pass as the law would restrict many transgender people. 

Trans youth attempt suicide at a significantly higher rate than other LGBTQIA+ and cisgender, heterosexual youth. According to the National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health 2020, more than half of transgender youth seriously consider suicide. and more than 20% of transgender and nonbinary youth actually attempt suicide. 

This study also showed a correlation between gender-affirming clothing and lower suicide rates. A distressing 26% of trans youth who do not have access to “binders, shapewear and gender-affirming clothes” attempted suicide. Only 14% of trans youth who do have access to gender-affirming clothing attempt suicide. That is still a huge number, but significantly lower than before. 

Think about that. The attempted suicide rate dropped by almost half just by allowing trans youth access to gender-affirming clothing. Imagine how much change could be made if there was better access to gender confirmation surgery and hormone therapy. 

By banning proper gender-affirming health care, thousands of lives are being put at risk. However, if the death of thousands of youth isn’t enough to cause lawmakers to reconsider, let’s look into some other details. 

The American Medical Association actually supports gender-affirming healthcare. They released a statement urging state governors to oppose bills that would prevent it on April 26.

“We believe this legislation represents a dangerous governmental intrusion into the practice of medicine and will be detrimental to the health of transgender children across the country,” the CEO of the American Medical Association wrote in their press release.

Some of these proposed bills wouldn’t stop at targeting physicians but would target parents and guardians too. They will extend the definition of abuse to include any parent or guardian who allows a trans minor to get gender confirmation surgery or puberty blockers. 

Classifying a supportive guardian as abusive is crossing the line. Child abuse should be addressed and taken seriously, not distorted for prejudiced purposes. By expanding the definition to include parents supporting their children, we are paving the path for more smudging of this line and we are setting a precedent for families being torn apart without reason. 

This is governmental overreach to the highest degree. These parents are supporting these minors, not harming them, so the government has no reason to even be involved.

There is no rationale for banning hormone therapy in the form of puberty blockers. Even though I don’t agree, I can somewhat see the reasoning behind wanting to ban gender confirmation surgery for minors, as it is more of a permanent procedure, but puberty blockers are one of the only treatments for transgender individuals that are completely reversible. 

All puberty blockers do is delay the change in a person’s appearance as they go through puberty in order to allow minors to fully consider and think through their gender identity. 

Puberty, on the other hand, has many irreversible physiological effects. By delaying puberty through puberty blockers, youth do not have to endure gender and body dysphoria while they are waiting to get gender confirmation surgery. 

While on the topic, it is important to note that the individuals who get transitional care are not young children. Trans youth can typically begin puberty blockers when they start puberty, but as mentioned before, puberty blockers are reversible. 

The next step in transitioning is hormone therapy which usually starts at 16 when individuals are old enough to make logical decisions about their own bodies. Gender confirmation surgery mostly begins at 18, when trans individuals are legal adults, so it shouldn’t even be a part of these bills.

These bills also re-spark the debate over bodily autonomy. These problems are very similar to abortion: Random civilians and lawmakers want to invade a person’s privacy and decide what that person should be doing with their own body. However, in this instance, there isn’t even an argument for interference. 

There is no other life supposedly at risk here, only a person signing up for a surgery that should not involve anyone else. Why should random people be allowed to have a say in this? Strangers don’t come up to people at the hospital and say “No! We must stop this surgery! This person’s wisdom tooth extraction goes against my beliefs and religion!”

These proposed bills concerning healthcare and transitional care for trans minors are despicable, but sadly, they aren’t the only kind of proposed bill that would harm trans youth.

At least another six bills were proposed concerning the involvement of trans youth in sports. These bills include requiring youth to participate in UIL sports based on the sex on their birth certificate, requiring players in Kindergarten through collegiate level sports to only play on the team that matches their biological sex, and some bills would even prohibit certain co-ed sports. 

These bills are founded on the idea that transgender girls or women, who were born biologically male or intersex, would have the advantage over biological females in womens’ sports. While at first consideration this might be based on reason, there is actually no medical science that proves that transgender women have the advantage over cisgender women. Once again, there is no conclusive evidence to support this idea. This puts trans athletes in a position where they have to choose between a sport they love and are passionate about, and their safety and well-being.

And if this law were to be put into place, a trans woman who went through hormone therapy would lose significant muscle mass and therefore not be on equal terms in the men’s leagues. According to the study “Effect of Cross-Sex Hormones on Body Composition, Bone Mineral Density, and Muscle Strength in Trans Women” by Yeoul Yun, Dongyoung Kim, and Eun Sil Lee, after six months of hormone therapy, a trans woman’s total lean body mass decreases by 4.3%. These laws would make it so there is no true place for a transgender athlete to compete. 

A reasonable person would see this lack of scientific support and realize that these bills are illogical, yet these bills are still present, which proves that they are not founded for science, but for discrimination.

The Associated Press reached out to state lawmakers and conservative groups sponsoring these kinds of bills, and found that very rarely is it even a problem. Representative Ashley Trantham, for example, admitted that she knew of no transgender athletes competing in the state and was proposing a ban to prevent possible problems in the future. There is no rationale for these bills.

There also seems to be a common misperception that transgender athletes just transition in order to have a higher success rate in sports, which makes no sense. No one would go through all the pain, isolation, and exclusion that comes with transitioning just to have a slight advantage in high school sports. 

This view of trans women in sports actually perpetuates the idea that trans people are only trans and only transition in order to deceive others, which furthers the stereotypes and prejudice already surrounding transgender individuals.

The recent slate of concerning bills includes some that would undermine local nondiscrimination rules and regulations. One bill would allow people to bring suit against any local law establishing regulations for licensed professionals beyond state laws. Because Texas as a state has no nondiscrimination laws, this bill would allow people to sue because of any locally established nondiscrimination law. 

Another bill would require rules made by a state agency like, for example, Texas Health and Human Services, to go through the legislative process. 

If these state agencies implemented new guidelines that supported the queer community, it would have to go through the Texas legislature, which increases the chance of the rule being cut. The legislature has no place in the rules of state agencies. The legislature is supposed to make laws, not interfere in the state’s executive duties. The inclusion of the legislature in the affairs of state agencies makes discrimination significantly easier and makes any minority group, not just trans youth, more vulnerable to discrimination. 

Finally, recently introduced religious exemption bills would allow some professionals to deny clientele based on a “sincerely held” religious belief of the professional. Some bills would allow a physician to object to performing a procedure that goes against their religion. 

This means that a physician would be allowed to deny gender confirmation surgery to trans individuals. Some bills make it so a hospital or medical facility cannot fire or refuse to hire a physician because the physician won’t perform a certain procedure. 

Other similar bills would also excuse pharmacies and pharmacists from not serving certain clients or giving certain medications because of religion, and would also excuse lawyers under the Texas bar refusing clients.

Firstly, people shouldn’t be working as a doctor, pharmacist or lawyer if they aren’t prepared to do their job and serve their clients. Secondly, this once again opens up the gate for discrimination. Should this pass, professionals can claim with some legal basis that being LGBTQIA+, following a different religion or even just dressing differently from the perceived normal is against their religion and can refuse service to these people. Any deviation from the social norms could be targeted by these bills. 

American acceptance of gay and lesbian people has expanded rapidly since the late 20th century. Trans acceptance has risen along with it, but not enough to prevent the return of the same tired stereotypes and attacks lobbed over the past decades at gay people. Trans Americans have become the new punching bag. It’s obvious that these bills are just a flailing last attempt in retaliation to the recent social progress. But these laws, if passed, carry extreme consequences. I encourage you to talk to your representatives and help convince them that these bills would hinder social progress and lower the quality of life for many Americans.