Texas bills aim to add criminal penalties for gender-affirming healthcare and drag performances

Texas Republicans introduced several bills this week ahead of the state’s next legislative session in January, embarking on efforts to ban gender-affirming health care for transgender youth and subject drag performances to the same strict standards as nightclubs and bars.

At least three bills tabled Monday in Texas House would designate gender-affirming care for minors as child abuse under state law, and another would eliminate liability insurance for providers who prescribe drugs to treat gender dysphoria in minors.

State lawmakers considered similar legislation last year to classify gender-affirming medical care provided to minors as child abuse, but the bill failed to advance the legislature before the end of session.

In February, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) issued an advisory finding that certain types of gender-affirming medical care, including puberty blockers and hormone therapies, constitute abuse under his office’s interpretation of state law.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, also a Republican, shortly thereafter ordered state authorities to investigate child molestation against the parents of transgender minors. These investigations have been challenged in court, and several investigations into specific families have been blocked by court orders.

In June, Texas Republicans unveiled an updated party platform that defines homosexuality as “an abnormal lifestyle choice” and condemns “all efforts to affirm transgender identity.”

Another measure introduced by state Assemblyman Jared Patterson (R) on Monday aims to classify any business hosting a drag performance as a “sexually oriented business” under state law, meaning customers under the age of 18 can be excluded Years access to the premises is denied.

Those found violating the provisions of the bill will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, equivalent to theft of a vehicle and punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $4,000.

Other states have taken similar steps to restrict drag shows, and Tennessee Republicans last week introduced legislation banning drag entertainers from performing on public property or at private events where their performance can be seen by a minor.

A similar federal law was introduced last month by Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.).

Johnson’s bill, which is supported by more than 30 House Republicans, seeks to ban federal funding from using programs for children under the age of 10 that contain “sexually oriented material,” including “any issue dealing with gender identity, gender dysphoria, transgenderism, and sexuality.” concern orientation or related topics.”

Additional federal legislation was introduced to restrict gender-affirming health care for minors, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) promised in July to introduce a bill banning transgender women and girls from competing on women’s sports teams, if Republicans win the House majority.

Texas Rep. Valoree Swanson (R) filed a similar bill Monday seeking to prevent transgender students in the state through high school from competing on school athletic teams that match their gender identity, by creating athletic teams based on who was born at birth assigned gender of the athletes.