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LGBTQ-rights activists flood Texas Capitol ahead of vote to ban gender-affirming care for minors

 LGBTQ-rights advocates hold a rally in the Texas Capitol rotunda on May 2, 2023 ahead on a vote on a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for minors.
Patricia Lim
LGBTQ-rights advocates hold a rally in the Texas Capitol rotunda on May 2, 2023 ahead on a vote on a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for minors.

“Y’all means all!”

Those three words echoed through the Texas Capitol Tuesday morning and early afternoon as more than a hundred pro-LGBTQ rights advocates protested legislation that would ban gender-affirming care for minors.

The bill is slated to be voted on by the Texas House Tuesday. The legislation has already been approved by the Texas Senate.

Amanda Richter drove to Austin from Houston early Tuesday to join the protest.

“We have been terrified,” Richter told The Texas Newsroom, explaining that her child in transgender. “We have been actively looking to leave the state, which sucks because this is my home state and I never thought I’d have to leave.”

Richter said Republicans in the Texas Legislature need to know their actions could have a negative impact on many Texans.

“There are so many of us that are going to be affected and they have not heard from enough people,” Richter said. “It’s our kids that are being affected, not theirs.”

Under Senate Bill 14, people younger than 18 years of age will not be allowed to access transition-related care such as puberty blockers or hormone therapy. Surgeries related to the transition would also be banned.

If SB 14 is passed into law and signed by Gov. Greg Abbott, gender-affirming care practices would be banned, despite them being endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the Pediatric Endocrine Society, the Texas Pediatric Society, and the American Board of Pediatrics as best practices for care.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has made banning gender-affirming care a priority of this year’s legislative session.

Supporters say the measure is needed to protect children.

Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, the Senate author, has called her bill a “child protection act.”

“The children need counseling and love, not blades and drugs,” Campbell said in March when the Senate passed her bill.

But Martha Newsome said she has seen firsthand how gender-affirming care transformed her 20-year-old grandson’s life.

“This is life-affirming care for him,” Newsome told The Texas Newsroom. “It has been since he was in his early teens and Jesse now laughs — he’s well again.”

Under the proposed law, Jesse would not be affected.

However, Newsome worries the Texas Legislature could move next towards expanding the ban to transgender adults, like in Missouri.

According to St. Louis Public Radio, last month the attorney general in Missouri “put forward emergency rules placing barriers to gender-affirming care for minors and adults.”

Newsome said that would destroy her family.

“They are already talking about do we need to move to New Mexico, Colorado?” Newsome said. “We are a very tight family … We support each other so much and my greatest fear is that I’m going to lose them to another state.”

Newsome came to the Texas Capitol with her College Station-based church. She said lawmakers need to look into their hearts before casting a vote to ban transition-related medical care.

“I would ask them to love — to really consider love,” Newsome said.

Copyright 2023 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán | The Texas Newsroom