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Texas Court Blocks Transgender Youth Medical Care Ban

Decision protects rights and healthcare access for vulnerable trans youth.

The 201st Judicial District Court of Travis County, Texas, has issued a restraining order this afternoon to halt the enforcement of a state-level ban on medical care for transgender youth, citing its unconstitutionality.

The court’s decision arrives subsequent to a hearing held last week concerning Senate Bill 14. Anticipating an appeal from the Texas Attorney General’s office, the Plaintiffs have indicated their intention to seek immediate relief from the appellate courts.

This legislation, slated to take effect on September 1, seeks to prohibit vital and life-preserving medical treatment for gender dysphoria among transgender youth in Texas. Additionally, the law mandates the revocation of medical licenses from physicians who provide the highest quality of care to their transgender patients.

Legal representatives from various entities including the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, ACLU, Transgender Legal Center, Lambda Legal, as well as law firms Scott Douglass & McConnico LLP and Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, LLP, argued in favor of the restraining order during court proceedings held last Tuesday and Wednesday. The court concurred that Senate Bill 14 is likely to infringe upon the fundamental rights of parents to make choices about their children’s care, as protected by the Texas Constitution. It was also noted that the law might infringe upon the professional freedom of Texas physicians and potentially lead to discrimination against transgender adolescents with gender dysphoria, based on sex, gender stereotypes, and transgender identity. This lawsuit, filed in July, represents the interests of five Texas families, three medical professionals, and two organizations catering to numerous families and healthcare practitioners across the state.

These five Texas families challenging the law come from diverse backgrounds and encompass transgender children and teenagers. They stand to face irreparable harm if Senate Bill 14 is enacted. The passing of this bill has already caused families to disband or consider relocating from Texas in order to sustain the necessary treatment for their children. To safeguard themselves and their transgender children, who range in age from 9 to 16, the families are proceeding under pseudonyms.

One of the Plaintiffs, PFLAG, holds the distinction of being the foremost and largest organization committed to supporting, educating, and advocating for both the LGBTQ+ community and those who stand by them. Another Plaintiff, GLMA, stands as the oldest and most extensive association of LGBTQ+ and allied healthcare professionals, including those who provide care for LGBTQ+ patients.

“The court decision is a critical victory for transgender youth and their families, supporters, and health providers against this blatantly unconstitutional law,” said Brian Klosterboer (he/him), attorney at the ACLU of Texas. “As Texans, we believe that each one of us should have the freedom to be ourselves and have access to best-practice medical care that we need for ourselves and our children without facing cruel discrimination or bullying designed as policy. Trans Texans shouldn’t have to go to court to defend their basic rights, and we will keep advocating for our clients every step of the way.”

“We are elated by the court’s ruling, which strikes a blow against this outrageous attempt to ban necessary and often life-saving medical care for Texas’ transgender youth, cut off access to medical care for adolescents already receiving treatment, and require the state to revoke the medical licenses of physicians providing the best standard of care to their transgender patients,” said Paul D. Castillo (he/him), Senior Counsel, Lambda Legal. “We will continue to fight for our clients and for all transgender youth in Texas until this dangerous law is permanently set aside.”

“The court’s decision was made possible by our courageous plaintiff families, doctors, trans youth, and the hundreds of trans Texans and their allies who have shown up to rallies, committee hearings, and the Capitol to ensure trans youth can access life-saving and necessary medical care,” said Lynly Egyes (she/her), Legal Director of Transgender Law Center. “Texans fought back against a small fraction of people who sought to take care away from an already vulnerable population. With today’s ruling, we join in celebration with our partners to show all youth in Texas, and across this country, that no matter your gender, your race, or the neighborhood you live in, trans youth and their families will have the freedom to make the medical decisions that are best for them.”

“We’re so thankful for our clients, their families, and the entire transgender community of Texas for helping to make this ruling possible,” said Elizabeth Gill, Staff Attorney for the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project. “Across the country, countless transgender youth are having their well-being threatened and their lives uprooted by dangerous and unconstitutional bans like S.B. 14. Every day that those young people are protected from hatred and able to access the care they need is a victory, but we won’t stop fighting until these laws are permanently erased from the record and the rights and lives of people like our clients are protected and safe.”

“We are invigorated by the court’s decision to protect and uphold the rights of trans youth, their families, and health care providers in Texas,” said Alex Sheldon (they/them), executive director at GLMA. “This ruling stands as a testament to the unwavering dedication of Texas families and the medical expertise of GLMA’s health professional members, who with each testimony have clearly demonstrated that gender-affirming care is evidence-based, life-saving care. Although this was just one battle of many, we remain steadfast in our commitment to fight for the rights of trans youth and health care providers offering gender-affirming care in Texas and throughout the nation.”

“The court made the right decision: to ensure that transgender Texans and their families can continue to thrive,” said Brian K. Bond, CEO of PFLAG National. “Every trans kid deserves access to safe, medically necessary, scientifically proven gender-affirming care, and PFLAG will continue to support our Texas families as we work to end the harm of this unjust law.”

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