Texas Governor Signs Bill Banning Transgender Care for Minors

According to estimates from the Williams Institute, a research center that reports on the demographics of L.G.B.T.Q. people, nearly 30,000 transgender people ages 13 to 17 live in Texas, making it one of the states with the largest populations of transgender youth.

The measure signed by Mr. Abbott, known as Senate Bill 14, drew protests from transgender Texans and their supporters at the Capitol before it was passed by the Legislature last month. Opponents condemned the measure as a politicized assault on transgender people. Supporters of the Texas legislation have called the treatments “mutilation.”

There is a debate among medical professionals about the age at which adolescents should have access to these treatments. But leading medical groups in the United States, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, say this care should be available to minors and oppose legislative bans.

The law reflects an effort in Texas and in much of the country by Republican elected leaders to restrict transgender rights. The cause has become an animating issue for social conservatives who seek to rally voters and raise money.

Since April 2021, when Arkansas became the first state to outlaw transition-related medical treatment for minors, more than a dozen other states have passed bills or policies seeking to prohibit what doctors call gender-affirming care.

Republican officials in some states have also been trying to restrict health care for trans adults, in some cases attempting to bar care for younger adults or by imposing restrictions on Medicaid coverage.

In Texas, officials had taken other steps to try to prevent transgender children from accessing medical transition care. Last year, Mr. Abbott directed the state’s child protective agency to investigate parents for child abuse if their children received such treatment. Some Texas families fled the state as a result, even as the investigations were being challenged in court.

According to the bill, minors already receiving prescribed medical treatment would be able “over a period of time and in a manner that is safe and medically appropriate” to “wean” themselves off the medication.

But it was not clear whether doctors would feel comfortable continuing to offer that care.

The bill gave enforcement authority to the state’s attorney general. When the state Legislature approved the bill last month, that position was held by Ken Paxton. But the next week, the state’s House of Representatives voted to impeach him. Mr. Abbott named John Scott, a longtime ally and a former Texas secretary of state, as an interim replacement while Mr. Paxton awaited his impeachment trial in the Senate.

The law is likely to face legal challenges in the three months before it is scheduled to go into effect.

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