A Texas judge has ruled to temporarily block a law that banning gender-affirming care for trans youth from taking effect while she hears a legal challenge to it.
However, Republican attorney general Ken Paxton immediately filed an appeal to the state’s Supreme Court, which will automatically put a freeze on the judge’s decision, allowing the law to take effect as planned on 1 September until the appeal is decided.
Judge Maria Cantu Hexsel ruled in favour of six families of trans children on Friday (25 August), finding that the Republican-backed law would likely cause “irreparable harm” to trans minors, their parents and physicians.
It was a brief win for trans rights as Austin judge Hexsel granted a temporary injunction blocking the state from enforcing its ban on minors receiving potentially life-saving gender-affirming care in the form of hormone therapy and puberty blockers.
The judge declared that Senate Bill 14 – which was signed into law at the beginning of June’s Pride Month – likely violates the Texas constitution by infringing on parent’s rights to make decisions affecting their children.
Hexsel also found that the law likely violates physicians’ rights to occupational freedom under the state constitution and constitutes sex discrimination against transgender youth.
The law still allows cisgender minors to receive puberty blockers and hormone therapies to treat conditions that are unrelated to gender dysphoria. Therefore, the judge found that the law only served to prevent access to treatment for a specific group of people without serving a greater state interest.
‘Critical victory for transgender youth’
Brian Klosterboer, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas, said in a statement: “The court decision is a critical victory for transgender youth and their families, supporters and health providers against this blatantly unconstitutional law.”
Judges have blocked similar bans on gender-affirming healthcare in other states, most recently in Georgia.
Meanwhile, US medical groups including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics maintain that gender-affirming care improves trans patients’ mental health and reduces the risk of suicide.
A landmark study from 2021 also found that giving gender-affirming hormone therapy to young trans people who want it significantly decreases the risk of suicidal ideation, suicide attempts and depression.
Republican Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 14 into law in June, making Texas one of at least 20 states to ban gender-affirming care for trans youth.
The case opposing SB14 was brought against the Texas state by the ACLU, Lambda Legal and the Transgender Law Center.