Texas bills seek to add criminal penalties to gender-affirming health care, drag performances

Texas Republicans this week pre-filed several bills ahead of the state’s next legislative session in January, teeing up efforts to ban gender-affirming health care for transgender youth and subject drag performances to the same rigorous standards as nightclubs and bars.

At least three bills filed Monday in the Texas House would designate gender-affirming care for minors as child abuse under state law, and another would revoke liability insurance for providers that prescribe medications used to treat gender dysphoria in minors.

State lawmakers last year considered similar legislation to classify gender-affirming medical care for minors as child abuse, but the bill failed to advance through the legislature before the end of the session.

In February, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) issued an opinion stating that certain types of gender-affirming medical care, including puberty blockers and hormone therapy, amounted to abuse under his office’s interpretation of state law.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, also a Republican, soon after ordered state agencies to open child abuse investigations into the parents of transgender minors. Those investigations have been challenged in court, and several probes into specific families have been blocked by court orders.

In June, Texas Republicans unveiled an updated party platform that defines homosexuality as an “abnormal lifestyle choice” and condemns “all efforts to validate transgender identity.”

Another measure introduced Monday by state Rep. Jared Patterson (R) seeks to classify any business that hosts a drag performance as a “sexually oriented businesses” under state law, meaning that patrons younger than 18 years old would be barred from the premises.

Those who violate the bill’s provisions will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, on par with vehicle burglary and punishable by up to a year of county jail time and a fine of up to $4,000.

Other states have taken similar steps to restrict drag shows, and Tennessee Republicans last week introduced legislation to prohibit drag entertainers from performing on public property or at private functions where their performance may be viewed by a minor. 

Federal legislation to the same effect was filed last month by Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.). 

Johnson’s bill, which has the backing of more than 30 House Republicans, seeks to prohibit federal funds from being used for programs for children under 10 that contain “sexually-oriented material” including “any topic involving gender identity, gender dysphoria, transgenderism, sexual orientation, or related subjects.”

Additional federal legislation has been filed to restrict gender-affirming health care for minors, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in July pledged to bring up a bill prohibiting transgender women and girls from competing on women’s sports teams if Republicans win the House majority.

Texas Rep. Valoree Swanson (R) on Monday filed similar legislation that seeks to bar transgender students in the state through high school from competing on school sports teams consistent with their gender identity by designating sports teams based on athletes’ sex assigned at birth.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post