SCOTX Hears Arguments Over Trans Procedures for Minors

Supreme Court building in Austin, TX | Image by Cin8 Films/Shutterstock

The Texas Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday over the ban on transgender procedures for minors passed by the State Legislature last year.

The case, Loe v. Texas, arose after Texas lawmakers passed Senate Bill 14, which prohibits doctors from providing “treatments for gender transitioning, gender reassignment, or gender dysphoria” to people under the age of 18.

Shortly after the bill was passed and signed by Gov. Greg Abbott, a group of parents and civil rights groups filed a challenge to block the law from taking effect. A lower court agreed, but an appeal allowed the law to be enacted. The Supreme Court of Texas heard arguments on the case on January 30, as The Dallas Express reported.

Natalie Thompson with the Texas Office of the Attorney General is representing the State, the defendant in the case. She argued that the law is appropriate and does not violate the state constitution or prevent parents from seeking medical care for their children.

“The statute is narrowly tailored to protecting children from interventions that interfere with their growth and development and have irreversible physical effects all without proven mental health benefit,” Thompson said, per The Texan. “What Senate Bill 14 does is take certain medical treatments off the table entirely; that’s not interfering with a parent’s right.”

Attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that the bill was politically motivated and not backed by modern science.

“This is not a situation where the Legislature has drawn lines based on risk; it’s simply drawing lines based on the purpose for which you’re receiving the care, saying the care is not available to individuals who are transgender,” attorney Kennon Wooten told the Court.

The panel of justices questioned both sides about the appropriateness and goals of bringing the law to the courts for consideration.

“This is really a question of philosophy, morality, maybe even religion,” Justice Jimmy Blacklock stated, per The Texan. “These are not purely questions of science and it seems to me the resolution of this issue flows from what side of that moral, philosophical debate you take.

“And it’s hard for me to see how the Court can ever be the appropriate arbiter of what moral and philosophical basis we are going to embed into our laws’ approach on this issue — that seems like a legislative choice, unless the constitution has taken it away, and I don’t see anything on the face of the constitution that has done that.”

The plaintiffs argued that transgender hormones and sex-altering surgeries are “safe and effective” and cited studies from various medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

Thompson argued these organizations are “ideologically captured” and that the research available is “questionable at best.”

Texas’ Supreme Court justices must weigh whether the law passes Constitutional muster, whether parents have the right to allow their children to undergo certain medical procedures, and whether the State has a right to bar physicians from performing specific procedures on minors.

The Court’s decision on the matter could be handed down sometime in the coming weeks.

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