House lawmakers in Texas are expected to vote Monday on a controversial bill that would ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth in the state.
SB-14, which has already been approved by the Texas Senate, aims to prohibit anyone under the age of 18 from receiving puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and any gender-affirming surgeries. Any minors who are already receiving any type of gender-affirming care would be "weaned off" their medications in a "medically appropriate" manner.
Texas House Democrats were able to successfully delay the bill twice last week by identifying minor errors in the legislation that violated House rules. However, after fixing the mistakes, Republicans finally brought SB-14 to the floor for a vote. Despite emotional debate and several more attempts by Democrats to amend the legislation, the GOP-controlled House voted 92-48 to pass the bill.
It's the latest in a wave of efforts from Republican-led states to target transgender health care for minors. At least 14 states have passed similar laws or policies that bar gender-affirming care for those under 18. They include Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee and Utah.
So, what exactly is gender-affirming care?
It's care that follows a set of guidelines for doctors that tell them how to support and affirm a patient's gender identity when it doesn't match how they were assigned at birth. It includes everything from using proper pronouns with patients, to counseling and therapy, and medical options like puberty blockers and hormones.
After months or years of blockers and hormone therapy, patients who want to go further can get top and/or bottom surgery. Surgeries generally aren't done before age 18 but can be performed for those slightly younger if doctors and the patient agree it's necessary.
Most major medical organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics,have strongly opposed these new bans. However, more states are pushing legislation that intends to restrict gender-affirming health care for minors, claiming it protects children from making decisions they may regret later in life.
The Texas House of Representatives is expected to vote on SB-14 once more Monday, which is largely a formality, before the legislation heads back to the Senate for review. If the upper chamber approves its revisions, the bill will then head to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk where it is expected to be signed into law.
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