The Texas Supreme Court allowed a new law banning transition care for transgender minors to go into effect on Friday, halting a range of medically-accepted treatments, including hormones and puberty blockers, in the nation’s most populous Republican-led state.
A lower court moved last week to temporarily block implementation of the new law, finding that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed in their challenge on state constitutional grounds. But that decision was immediately appealed by the attorney general to the Texas Supreme Court, an action that prevented the lower court’s injunction from taking effect.
The state’s highest court has not yet ruled on the appeal, and on Thursday it denied an emergency application to block the law from going into effect on schedule on Sept. 1. The request was made by the plaintiffs, including transgender minors, their parents and several rights groups, including Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas.
The law was passed by the Republican-dominated Texas Legislature earlier this year and was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott. It prohibits doctors from prescribing certain medications and from performing mastectomies or other surgical procedures as part of a gender transition for minors.
Under the law, doctors who provide such care would have their medical licenses revoked. The law also bars health insurance plans from covering the treatments.
The plaintiffs have argued that the law violates the Texas constitution, denies parents the right to make decisions about their children’s medical care and discriminates against transgender people with gender dysphoria by denying them treatments, like hormone therapy, that remain legally available for minors in Texas to address other needs.
Why It Matters
There are estimated to be 30,000 transgender people in Texas between the ages of 13 and 17, according to the Williams Institute, a research center at the U.C.L.A. School of Law. The state is the largest that has banned transgender care for minors.
The law, now in effect, is likely to have an immediate impact, barring doctors from providing transition treatments to new patients and requiring existing patients to gradually taper off the treatments they have been receiving. The law does not specify how much time patients have to stop using medications for transition care.
More than 20 states now have some sort of ban on those treatments on their books, following a push by Republican leaders around the country to enact sweeping restrictions on care for transgender minors.
Transgender rights supporters have challenged the laws in several states, and have succeeding in blocking enforcement of the bans in some places. But in others, conservatives, who see the restrictions as a way to prevent children from making life-altering decisions with their medical care, have prevailed. Judges in states including Alabama, Missouri and Tennessee have recently allowed similar restrictions to take or remain in effect.
Hospitals and medical clinics in Texas have said they would abide by the law. Transgender minors and their families have said that moves by Texas leaders to restrict care were forcing them from the state even before the law took effect.
It was not clear when the Texas Supreme Court, whose nine members are all Republicans, would rule on the attorney general’s appeal. While the appeal is pending, the law is allowed to take effect; the same would be true if the higher court rules in the attorney general’s favor and vacates the lower court’s injunction.