The fate of legislation to ban child gender mutilation in Texas is in the hands of the state’s Supreme Court.

Senate Bill 14 by State Sen. Donna Campbell (R–New Braunfels) protects children from being chemically castrated by puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones and from receiving mutilative surgeries.

After Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill into law last year, the ACLU of Texas and five families with gender-confused children filed a lawsuit to challenge Texas’ child gender mutilation ban, arguing it would prevent “trans youth” from receiving “life-saving care.”

In August, a district judge in Travis County granted a preliminary injunction, which would temporarily allow children to continue to access gender-mutilative surgeries and cross-sex hormones. That was quickly appealed by the Office of the Attorney General to the Texas Supreme Court, freezing the lower court’s injunction and allowing the law to go into effect.

Oral arguments were finally heard in the Texas Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Natalie Thompson, a lawyer with the Office of the Attorney General, argued that parental rights were not in question.

“Parental liberty interests are not in conflict with the state’s well-recognized authority to regulate the practice of medicine,” said Thompson. “Second, a statute that distinguishes between medical conditions is not discrimination on the basis of sex. And this court should not recognize transgender individuals as the first ever suspect class that is mentioned nowhere in the Texas constitution. And third, a physician does not have a constitutional right to perform gender transitioning procedures.”

She also mentioned that the child would be subject to lifelong irreversible effects from gender mutilation procedures.

“Puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones result in a child permanently developing secondary sex characteristics based on the opposite sex and it requires permanent medical treatment,” said Thompson. “Even if you’ve put aside all the risks of atrophy and bone health and blood difficulties and increased risks, that child is going to have to be seeing an endocrinologist for the rest of his or her life.”

Kennon Wooten, who argued the case for the ACLU, portrayed Senate Bill 14 as “categorically banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender adolescents in the state of Texas.”

“Senate Bill 14 usurps the fundamental right of parents to make medical decisions for their children. It deprives transgender youth of equal rights and equal protection. It deprives the doctors of their vested property interest in their medical license without enforcing the law. And that infringes on all health care providers’ occupational liberty without due course of law,” said Wooten. “In attempting to justify SB 14 in this case, the state has disregarded widely recognized benefits of the care that SB 14 bans and the risk of doing nothing to treat gender dysphoria.”

The court will make a decision in the coming weeks whether to overturn the lower court’s decision and keep the law in place.

Brandon Waltens

Brandon serves as the Senior Editor for Texas Scorecard. After managing successful campaigns for top conservative legislators and serving as a Chief of Staff in the Texas Capitol, Brandon moved outside the dome in order to shine a spotlight on conservative victories and establishment corruption in Austin. @bwaltens