Analysis

Draconian Texas bill attacks health care rights of transgender youth

The Texas legislature is on the verge of passing an anti-transgender bill that would harm LGBTQ and intersex youth.

Senate Bill 1646, which seeks to amend the definition of abuse under the Texas Family Code to include administering or consenting to a child’s use of puberty suppression treatment, hormones, or surgery for gender-affirming care/transition, was penned by Lubbock, Texas, Republican Sen. Charles Perry. On April 28, in an 18 to 12 vote, the Texas Senate passed SB 1646. The bill now moves to the Texas House of Representatives, and then, if passed, to Governor Greg Abbott.

Bigoted bill an attack on trans youth

If this bill were to pass, trans youth would reap the “benefits” of increased harassment, violence, denial of health care, extra-curricular activities, housing and employment. The notion that many children will regret their decision to transition is false, and the bulk of the scientific data points to the benefits of gender-affirming care on trans youth. A 2021 study by the Fenway Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital found that only 13.1% of trans people have de-transitioned at some point, and that 82.5% of those cases were caused by external pressure and stigma related to being transgender, rather than regretting their transition.

SB 1646 also seeks to concretely determine the definition of intersex children. It does make a point not to limit intersex youth’s access to surgeries, hormones, etc. The bill states:

Intersex child’ means a child who is younger than 18 years of age and either: (A) has inborn chromosomal, gonadal, genital, or endocrine characteristics, or a combination of those characteristics, that are not suited to the typical definition of male or female or are atypical for the sex determined.

This disgusting attempt to appear knowledgeable about the well-being of intersex youth does not account for the large portion of intersex individuals who are not determined to be intersex until puberty or much later in life — or those who have an expansive view of their identity. SB 1646 is full of contradictions; children labeled as intersex at birth are allowed access to hormones and surgery, but only so they can assimilate into cisnormative society. However, allowing trans and gender non-conforming youth access to necessary health care is labeled child abuse. The “science” of this bill is just a weaponization of language — right-wing lawmakers are including a few “science-y” passages to hide that they are disregarding the mountain of statistics about the harm that legislation like this does to transgender youth.

According to a 2018 study published in the American Academy of Pediatrics, 50.8% of trans-male teenagers, 29.9% of trans-female teens, and 41.8% of non-binary, trans teens had attempted suicide. Life-saving hormones, care, or surgery need to be readily available to trans/GNC youth. 

Anti-trans bills across the country deepen anti-trans bigotry

2021 has ushered in an entire wave of legislation targeting trans children; over 80 bills introduced in the last four months aim to restrict the autonomy of trans youth — primarily through access to gender-affirming care and participation in school-based athletic activities. These bills are anti-trans bigotry with no connection to science, standards of medical care, or worry for the well-being of children.

Texas State Senator Perry is also the author of SB 29, which passed earlier this month and stated that school-sponsored athletic teams cannot allow a student to compete in an interscholastic athletic competition sponsored by the district or school designated for the “biological sex opposite to the student’s biological sex as correctly stated on the student’s official birth certificate.” SB 29 effectively bars trans youth from participating in any athletic program that correctly matches their gender expression in the state of Texas.

Many of these political attacks have or are destined to fail, or if they succeed will face intense criticism and protest. But they are undoubtedly connected to all violence and attacks perpetrated against trans people.

Attempts to divide the working class 

Transphobia is one of many ruling-class techniques utilized to turn working-class people against each other. Texas politicians are no stranger to using anti-trans legislation to create a frenzy of bigotry. In 2017, the failed “bathroom bill” was vocally supported by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and would have required trans people to use public bathrooms and facilities that match their sex assigned at birth, regardless of their gender identity. Blaming significant societal problems on the existence of trans people is a tool used by the ruling class to create division over social issues and ignore the stark reality of capitalistic exploitation. Capitalists do not care about children in vulnerable societal positions, they care about maintaining control over bodies, and that is what SB 1646 will do. Yet, even if SB 1646 passes, there is no reversing the ever-present and growing spirit of trans liberation and the tireless effort put forth by activists and revolutionaries alike.

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