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  • Larry Payne

Texas Shame: The Law that Abuses Transgendered Youth

The passage of Senate Bill 14 by the Texas legislature should bring shame to every Texan. I believe banning gender-affirming treatment offered by effective, well-established medical and psychological practices is state-sponsored abuse of transgendered youth.

Gender-affirming care has helped thousands of Texas youth establish their gender identity. The treatment is prescribed for a recognized mental condition known as Gender Dysphoria. This condition, recognized for many years by the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Medical Association, means that a person is suffering acute distress living with their assigned natal gender identity (APA, “Gender identity”). This strong and persistent negative emotional reaction to assigned gender identity may be is expressed in many ways, such as role-playing, clothing, hair styles, sports, or sex organ disgust. This distress emerges from within the person’s self-understanding during childhood and teenage years and may result in social isolation, poor school performance, anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts. It is not the result of family patterns, reading library books, or watching social media influencers. Treatments include teenagers receiving careful psychological evaluation and hormone blockers under the care of trained medical specialists. The effectiveness and benefit of gender-affirming care has been clear from many medical studies (Turban, “Evidence.”) During hearings on SB 14, dozens of parents and youth testified of the positive effects of these treatments. Tragically, the medical evidence and positive personal testimony was ignored and this harmful law enacted.

This law should shame Texans for several reasons. First, this law harms kids emotionally and physically. It conveys a toxic message of shame from the State, which is far more damaging than a few comments from peers. Psychologically fragile kids, struggling to define themselves at the most basic level, are now further stigmatized by Big Brother. Parents who have given their best emotional and financial support are sidelined and overruled. The best medical and psychological facts are ignored. This harmful law threatens to increase the number of suicides among transgendered teens, which is already higher than the average. Stigmatizing a psychological condition and forbidding effective treatment is exactly the opposite of how to care for transgendered kids and their families. More harm will come to transgendered children from this movement than can be estimated today.

Second, the laws are a result of a political agenda driven by cultural bias. A well-organized and funded agenda from right-wing strategists seized on the issue to gain political power. The effort is one of several to promote the Christian Nationalism movement (Times, “Campaign”.) This political power-play seeks to marginalize non-Christians, the LGBTIA community, BIPOC persons, and certain ethnic groups. Labeling transgender persons as deviant promotes this unamerican agenda. Being noncisgendered is legally and morally acceptable in modern American society now and must remain so. The rights of LGBTIA human beings are enshrined in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights which states the incontestable truth, “All human beings are born free and equal in human rights” (UNHROHC, “Born Free”). Has Texas come to the place where law ignores human rights affirmed across the globe to imitate the autocratic foreign governments that squash fundamental freedoms, reject diversity, and criminalize those deemed unfit to build their oppressive empires?

Third, it is a gross act of abuse to refuse to provide treatment for a medical condition. Parents go to jail for neglect when they do not seek medical treatment for a child. Isn’t this law a cruel act of neglect to deny effective treatment when a child is in acute distress emotionally from gender dysphoria? To make it worse, the State has mobilized government agencies to investigate and charge parents and medical professionals who are acting in the best interest of the children. Families have fled the state to avoid this injustice. These parents have only the best interest in providing treatment for their child. This ban makes the state nothing short of an accessory to abuse.

Finally, the law is a betrayal of spiritual values. Christian teaching is clear that God imparts to every person a fundamental capacity to determine their fate. When this freedom of conscience is abridged by the state for no crime against society, then the dignity of that person is dismissed. The work to understand and adjust to one’s gender identity is a journey of authenticity. To make illegal or immoral the quest for teenagers to know the truth of their personhood is an act of deep injustice that cannot be squared with the universal love of God for all humanity. Turning to Scripture, some misunderstand the Creation narrative, “male and female God created them (Genesis 1:27),” as an absolute proclamation of gender identities, rather than a metaphorical description rooted in a pre-scientific society. We should note that Jesus accepted to the kingdom of heaven those who were eunuchs by nature or choice, a noncisgenered condition (Matthew 19:12). Turning to the merciful truth of a beloved hymn one might ask, “Is the truth of ‘just as I am’ focused on one’s genitals, or one’s soul?”

The shameful truth for Texans is that SB 14 is now law. I plan to support every effort to overturn this toxic law for the good of children who need treatment, not stigmatizing. Please join me.


American Psychiatric Association, “What is Gender Dsyphoria?”

Jack Turban, “The Evidence for Trans Youth Gender-Affirming Care.”

United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, “Born Free and Equal.”

Adam Nagourney and Jeremy W. Peters, “How a Campaign against Transgender Rights Mobilized Conservatives.” New York Times, April 17, 2023.

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