By Kate Scanlon
(OSV News) — Texas is poised to enact legislation banning certain types of medical or surgical gender reassignment procedures for minors, shortly after Florida lawmakers enacted similar legislation.
The Texas Legislature voted May 17 in favor of Senate Bill 14, sending it to the desk of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who is expected to sign it. The Texas bill prohibits health care providers in the state from performing certain types of hormonal or surgical gender reassignments on minors, including puberty blockers.
The Texas bill was passed by the Legislature shortly after Florida lawmakers approved a similar law blocking those interventions for minors who identify as transgender. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is soon expected to launch a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, signed other measures on May 17 including restrictions on drag shows and banning schools from using pronouns for students that align with their self-perceived gender identity rather than their biological sex.
The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops wrote on social media that it supports SB 14.
“We acknowledge (and) affirm that all human beings have an inherent dignity, and that God created each person male or female; therefore, sexual difference is not an accident or a flaw — it is a gift from God,” the conference wrote in a May 15 tweet.
The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops listed Florida’s versions of the legislation, HB 1421 and SB 254 on its list of supported legislation from the state’s recently concluded legislative session.
Florida and Texas are the latest in a series of states that have moved to restrict the use of hormonal or surgical interventions for minors who identify as transgender.
Supporters of prohibitions on these practices for minors who identify as transgender say such efforts will prevent them from making irreversible decisions as children they may later come to regret as adults. Critics of such measures argue that preventing those interventions could cause other harm to minors such as mental health issues or self-harm.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, which opposes bans on such interventions, said in a joint statement with its national organization as well as Lambda Legal and the Transgender Law Center that they will file “a lawsuit to protect transgender youth in Texas from being stripped of access to healthcare that keeps them healthy and alive.”
The statement argued Texas lawmakers “are hellbent on joining the growing roster of states determined to jeopardize the health and lives of transgender youth, in direct opposition to the overwhelming body of scientific and medical evidence supporting this care as appropriate and necessary.”
“Transgender youth in Texas deserve the support and care necessary to give them the same chance to thrive as their peers,” the statement said.
In guidance on health care policy and practices released March 20, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine opposed interventions that “involve the use of surgical or chemical techniques that aim to exchange the sex characteristics of a patient’s body for those of the opposite sex or for simulations thereof.”
“Any technological intervention that does not accord with the fundamental order of the human person as a unity of body and soul, including the sexual difference inscribed in the body, ultimately does not help but, rather, harms the human person,” the document states.
A 2022 study by the UCLA Williams Institute found that there are approximately 1.6 million people in the U.S. who identify as transgender, with about 300,000 of that population who are minors.