HOUSTON - Texas lawmakers are now considering a bill that would make it a crime for parents to allow their kids to undergo a gender affirmation surgery. The bill says parents who consent to that treatment could be guilty of child abuse.
Texas Senate Bill 1646 was heard during a State Affairs Committee Monday. Dozens of people showed up to the State Capitol to testify for and against the bill.
"I’ve been having to explain myself since I was three or four years old. ]Texas legislators have been attacking me since Pre-K. I’m in 4th grade now," said Kai Shappley, a transgender kid.
"It’s been very scary and overwhelming. It makes me sad that some politicians use trans kids, like me, to get votes from people who hate me just because I exist. God made me. God loves me and God does not make mistakes," Shappley continued.
The bill would make it illegal for kids under 18 to receive any medical procedures, surgeries or certain prescription drugs that would help with gender transition or reassignment.
Kai’s mom, a registered nurse, says the bill would put the lives of trans kids like her daughter, at risk, again.
The family is originally from the Houston area and has already moved once to avoid discrimination.
"In 2018, after the dangerous rhetoric of the Texas legislature’s bathroom bill, I moved my family from Pearland to Austin for the safety and well-being of my daughter. And I don’t want to move my children again but I’m worried that we might have to. If these bills pass, I'll have to uproot my family and leave for a state with comprehensive, non-discrimination laws," said Kimberly Shappley.
According to the bill’s proposal, parents who consent to transgender treatments could face child abuse charges and potentially risk losing custody of their kid.
Similarly, doctors who agree to perform gender affirmation surgery could risk losing their medical license.
Houston-based organization, Doctors For Change, issued a letter to Texas lawmakers, urging them to vote no, arguing that SB 1646 is an intrusion on patient-provider confidentiality.
"Children who do identify as transgender have higher rates of suicidality and you know being discriminated against this way, means that they and their guardians will likely not seek affirming and compassionate care," said Areana Quiñones, the Executive Director of Doctors for Change.
However, those in favor of the bill say a child should wait until adulthood to make those life-altering decisions.
"A parent for child should not be given the right to decide to mutilate a child’s body. A child should not have to live with regret due to a childhood decision made for them, leaving them scarred, mutilated and with PTSD stemming from their gender transition," said Kevin Whitt.
The bill was filed by State Senator Charles Perry from Lubbock and has been co-sponsored by 12 other Republican lawmakers.
Two similar bills will be heard in a house committee later this week.