Texas Appeals Ruling Aimed at Blocking Its Transgender Care Ban

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A district judge in Texas moved on Friday to temporarily block enforcement of a law banning transgender minors in the state from receiving gender transition care, including puberty blockers and hormone treatments.

But almost immediately after the judge entered that ruling, the state attorney general’s office announced that it had appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, a step that would prevent the lower court’s injunction from taking effect, at least for now.


The legislation, known as Senate Bill 14, is set to go into effect next week, and was among the most volatile measures of the Texas legislative session, drawing protests from transgender Texans and their supporters.

In a ruling on Friday, Judge Maria Cantú Hexsel of the State District Court in Travis County said plaintiffs who challenged the new law on state constitutional grounds had shown they would be likely to succeed at trial.

“The Act’s prohibitions on providing evidence-based treatment for adolescents with gender dysphoria stands directly at odds with parents’ fundamental right to make decisions concerning the care of their children,” the judge wrote.

But the attorney general’s office defended the law when it appealed to the State Supreme Court.

In a statement, officials in that office said they “will continue to enforce the laws duly enacted by the Texas Legislature and uphold the values of the people of Texas by doing everything in its power to protect children from damaging ‘gender transition’ interventions.”

The lawsuit in Texas is one of several that transgender rights supporters have filed in state and federal courts. Though opponents of the laws have succeeded in blocking enforcement of some bans, judges have recently allowed restrictions to remain in place in Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska and Tennessee.

Even before the Texas legislation passed, officials in that state had taken steps to try to prevent transgender children from accessing medical transition care. Last year, Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, directed the state’s child protective agency to investigate parents for child abuse if their children received such treatment.

Why It Matters: Texas is the largest state to have passed a law banning transition care for minors.

The law was part of a broad push in Republican states this year to regulate medical care for transgender youth. But of the more than 20 states with some sort of a ban on those treatments, Texas is the largest.

Conservatives who support the laws have claimed they protect children from making life-altering medical decisions they may later regret. L.G.B.T.Q. rights advocates say the laws amount to attacks on transgender people and run counter to medical standards.

The final version of the Texas law included a limited exemption for those transgender children who were already receiving medical treatment before the bill’s passage, though it also required those patients to “wean” themselves off the medications over an unspecified period of time.

What’s Next: The legal challenge will unfold over the next year.

The legal battle over transgender medical care in the state remains far from over.

Judge Cantú Hexsel, whose ruling on Friday was preliminary, set a trial on the lawsuit challenging the Texas ban for May 2024. But the Texas Supreme Court could decide sooner whether to temporarily block enforcement.

Even as opponents of the law praised Judge Cantú Hexsel’s ruling on Friday, they issued statements noting that the litigation would go on.

“We will continue to fight for our clients and for all transgender youth in Texas until this dangerous law is permanently set aside,” said Paul D. Castillo, a lawyer for Lambda Legal, which was among the groups that brought the Texas lawsuit.

Mitch Smith covers the Midwest and the Great Plains. Since joining The Times in 2014, he has written extensively about gun violence, oil pipelines, state-level politics and the national debate over police tactics. He is based in Chicago.  More about Mitch Smith

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