88th LegislatureIssuesState SenateStatewide NewsChild Gender Modification Ban ‘Grandfather’ Amendment Divides Republican Lawmakers, State Party

An amendment that allows a 90-day period for children to continue gender modification treatments has sparked debate between Texas Republicans.
March 31, 2023
This week, two bills that would ban the use of treatments for the purposes of child gender modification progressed through both the House and the Senate.

Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) introduced Senate Bill (SB) 14, fielding questions and proposed amendments on the Senate floor, but one amendment has caused a range of reactions from fellow GOP members.

The amendment in question, which was proposed by Campbell, passed the Senate floor without objection.

The amendment would allow a physician administering “nonsurgical gender transitioning or gender reassignment procedure or treatment” to continue the course of treatments if the process began “90 days before” the bill goes into effect, “grandfathering in” some children still undergoing treatments.

During the Senate floor hearing, Campbell had an opportunity to elucidate on the reasons for proposing a “grandfather clause” to her bill, engaging in a back-and-forth with Sen. Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio) on its purpose.

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“This is not science-based practice. There is no scientific data that shows giving these puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones improves anything, there’s just no science for it,” Campbell said. “So how do we know what to do about going back and stopping them?”

Menendez asked about other medical treatments, such as steroids, that require a “weaning-off” period.

“There are many drugs that you can stop without having to wean off,” Campbell said. “I don’t know the weaning schedule or how they should be taken off, because of that we have this amendment.”

The uncertainty surrounding the vagueness of language in the amendment has caused legislators and state party officials to comment and clarify their positions.

Rep. Tom Oliverson (R-Cypress), who filed companion legislation in the House, clarified on social media the use of the word “grandfathering” in treatment procedures as a pejorative to describe the amendment.

“As two physician lawmakers, Senator Campbell and I have always endeavored to follow the science on this complex issue,” he states. “We could find no studies providing guidance on the effects of rapidly withdrawing these medications from a patient.”

“We felt that the correct course of action was to allow treatment to continue in these limited cases, with the understanding that it could not progress to additional escalating treatments,” he said.

Matt Rinaldi, chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, saw the amendment differently, saying it would allow “chemical castration and surgical mutilation of any child to continue.”

“These procedures are monstrous and serve no medical purpose. With this amendment, Texas is abandoning every child currently being abused,” he said.

The intra-party opposition continued as the Texas GOP social media account also issued its opinion on Campbell’s amendment.

“We have been told time and time again hormone treatments are reversible and not permanent, yet when faced with the reality they could be banned, leftists admit what we already knew, the cause lasting harm,” they wrote.

“This bill no longer protects all Texan’s children.”

The debate surrounding the effectiveness and procedural process of administering gender modification medications for children is a continued point of contention.

Studies have found that hormone treatments on children with gender dysphoria produce evidence that is “not reliable’” and results can be due to “confounding, bias, or chance.” There are also findings that offer “limited evidence for the effectiveness and safety of gender-affirming hormones.”

The conversation will continue as Campbell’s bill is set to have a third hearing on the Senate floor and Oliverson’s companion bill in the House was left pending in committee.


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Cameron Abrams

Cameron Abrams is a reporter for The Texan. After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Tabor College and a Master’s Degree from University of the Pacific, Cameron is finishing his doctoral studies where his research focuses on the postmodern philosophical influences in education. In his free time, you will find him listening to a podcast while training for an endurance running event.