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Texas House committee takes on bill barring transgender-related health care

House Bill 1686 would bar doctors from providing transgender-related health care to children under 18 years old.

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas lawmakers heard public testimony on a bill that could bring major changes to the lives of gay and transgender Texans. 

House Bill 1686, authored by Texas House Rep. Tom Oliverson, already has the support of more than half of the 150-member House. During the 2021 session, the Senate passed a similar restriction on gender-affirming care for transgender children, but the House did not support it.

HB 1686 would prevent doctors from providing transgender-related health care and procedures to kids under 18 years old. The bill is among a long list of legislation Republican lawmakers are pushing that could disrupt the lives of LGBTQ+ Texans.

On Monday, before the House Committee on Public Health, the president of the American College of Pediatricians advocated for HB 1686. Dr. Quentin Van Meter said transgender-related health care for children is harmful and can be detrimental to children's lives.

"It is harmful because it tears apart the fabric of the family, it tears apart the friendships," Van Meter said. "When a child comes out and goes to school the next day as the opposite sex and is treated as such, that can't be put back together. That's a Pandora's box."

Medical groups, doctors and transgender Texans say lawmakers backing the legislation are missing the point of how transition-related health care helps trans people, including children.

During the House committee hearing, LGBTQ+ advocacy groups and supporters gathered in the rotunda of the Texas Capitol to rally against HB 1686 and other bills they call anti-LGBTQ+.

In what the groups called a "Fight for Our Lives" rally, people spoke out to preserve access to what they say is life-saving care for transgender Texans.

"We know our kids deserve every opportunity to not only live as themselves but to thrive," Landon Richie with the Transgender Education Network of Texas said at the rally. "No matter what happens here today, this session, or any future sessions to come, we will continue to care for each other. We will make sure transgender youth get the chance to be transgender adults."

According to a tweet by Texas House Rep. Ann Johnson, 2,519 people were registered to speak against the bill before the House committee on Monday night. She did not say how many are signed up to speak in favor of the legislation.

HB 1686 mirrors Senate Bill 14, authored by State Sen. Donna Campbell.

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