TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (Nexstar) — A Travis County district judge issued a temporary injunction Friday, blocking Texas’ ban on transgender health care for minors from going into effect next week.
A group of Texas families with transgender children and doctors sued the state over Senate Bill 14, a bill passed this legislative session that prohibits transgender minors from getting health care to assist in their gender transition. The bill cites puberty-blocking medication, hormone therapy or surgery — although surgical procedures are rarely performed on minors seeking gender-affirming care. Texas doctors who provide this type of care could also lose their medical licenses.
The judge’s order pauses SB 14 from going into effect on Sept. 1. The state is expected to appeal the case, but the court ordered that the injunction will stand until a judgment in this case is entered or the lawsuit is otherwise dismissed by the court. However, a little over an hour after the judge issued the injunction, the Office of Attorney General filed an appeal with the Texas Supreme Court.
In a seven-page order, Judge Maria Cantú Hexsel found the bill likely violates parents’ and doctors’ rights under the Texas Constitution, writing that it infringes upon “the fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody and control of their children.”
“The evidence before the Court does not support the conclusion the Act protects the health or wellbeing of minors. Instead, the evidence demonstrates that the Act threatens the health and wellbeing of adolescents with gender dysphoria,” Cantú Hexsel wrote.
Attorneys for Texas and authors of the legislation claim the state has the right to regulate parental decisions when it poses a threat to minors — arguing children are too young to make possibly life-altering decisions, and therefore restrictions on gender-transition care were necessary to protect minors.
In a press release, the Office of Attorney General wrote that its appeal will protect children from gender transition interventions.
“These unproven medical interventions are emphatically pushed by some activists in the medical and psychiatric professions despite the lack of evidence demonstrating medical benefit, and even while growing evidence indicates harmful effects on children’s mental and physical welfare.”
OAG also claims that its appeal nullifies the judge’s injunction because it was filed with the Texas Supreme Court. It’s not immediately clear what that means for the status of SB 14.
Cantú Hexsel offered sharp criticism of the state’s assertions that SB 14 was designed to protect minors when discussing how the law only blocks this type of treatment for transgender children, but does not ban puberty blockers and hormone therapy for other minors with other medical conditions.
“It prohibits the treatments only when used to treat an adolescent for gender dysphoria, even though the risks of the treatment are similar, if not the same, regardless of the condition for which they are prescribed,” she wrote. “The Act was passed because of, and not in spite of, its impact on transgender adolescents, depriving them of necessary, safe and effective medical treatment.”
Reactions to the judge’s decision
One of the legislation’s co-authors, Rep. Tom Oliverson, R-Cypress, told Nexstar in an interview last week that he believes this type of health care to treat gender dysphoria is “experimental.”
“These are permanent decisions. They’re not decisions that are appropriate for children to be making, or for parents or their doctors to be making on their behalf,” he said. “I don’t think this is about good parents or bad parents. I think that, unfortunately, we have a medical community that has followed very, very poor science.”
These treatment practices for children and adolescents have been supported by major medical associations in the U.S. — including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Psychological Association (APA), the Pediatric Endocrine Society (PES), the Texas Pediatric Society (TPS), and the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) as best practices for care.
LGBTQ rights advocates and plaintiffs are calling the ruling a “critical victory” for transgender youth, their families and physicians who provide that care.
“As Texans, we believe that each one of us should have the freedom to be ourselves and have access to best-practice medical care that we need for ourselves and our children without facing cruel discrimination or bullying designed as policy,” said Brian Klosterboer, an attorney with the ACLU of Texas. “Trans Texans shouldn’t have to go to court to defend their basic rights, and we will keep advocating for our clients every step of the way.”