The Republican Party of Texas’ 2020 primary ballot includes a platform proposal that would ban medical transition treatments for transgender youth.
Early voting for the March 3 primary is now underway, and ends February 28. The GOP ballot includes an opinion poll featuring 10 issues, and asks voters to accept or reject the proposals for future ballots.
One of the proposals argues that “Texas should ban chemical castration, puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and genital mutilation surgery on all minor children for transition purposes, given that Texas children as young as three (3) are being transitioned from their biological sex to the opposite sex.”
This proposition is misleading, and does not take into account the medical regulations already in place to protect transgender youth.
While there is no law specifically regulating transition-related treatment separately from other medically-necessary care, all minors need parental consent to medically transition, according to PolitiFact.
Widely accepted guidelines for transgender transition care emphasize gender-affirming care and therapy as primary tools for children. More intensive options, such as surgery or hormone treatment, are typically reserved for older adolescents (with parental consent) and adults.
The trans-related proposition is being included on the primary ballot just months after a Dallas custody dispute between a mother and father who disagree on the gender identity of their 7-year-old child. The case began gaining attention in some conservative news outlets after the child’s father, Jeff Younger, blogged that he feared the child would be “chemically castrated” by his ex-wife.
The child’s mother, Anne Georgulas, however, merely proposed allowing the child to socially transition from male to female by wearing girls’ clothing and going by a different name. Later, the child might take medical steps such as puberty blockers, which temporarily pause puberty.
Puberty blockers are a reversible treatment often prescribed for children who may feel uncomfortable with their gender assigned at birth, and it requires a child’s informed consent, according to the Mayo Clinic. Children whose gender identity is not being affirmed face “astronomically higher” rates of suicide, according to Equality Texas. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that transgender youth face a “disproportionately higher risk” of suicide, substance abuse, and violence.
After 15 months in court, a jury awarded Ann Georgulas full conservatorship of her daughter on October 22—a decision that brought relief to the trans community and outraged conservatives who believe supporting a trans child’s gender identity is tantamount to child abuse.
But two days later, Judge Kim Cooks decided to vacate the jury decision and instead granted the parents joint managing conservatorship. Their custody case now gives the Texas GOP another chance to target transgender rights in the 2021 legislative session.
Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth) has promised to introduce a bill prohibiting the use of puberty blockers for children, and Rep. Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands) pledged that the first bill filed in 2021 will add “Transitioning a Minor” to the list of child-abuse definitions.
While the anti-trans platform proposition on the current GOP primary ballot is not a policy referendum, it could be in the near future. “When you vote YES or NO, you are telling us what you think should happen,” says the Republican Party of Texas’ website.