AUSTIN, Texas — Prior to a key deadline Thursday, Texas lawmakers already took up some major hot-button issues from abortion to the permitless carry of handguns. With few hours left on the clock and dozens of bills left to go, inevitably many bills missed the target. That included one controversial proposed legislation affecting health care for transgender youth.
Like many parents of transgender young Texans, Camille Rey thinks she has been to the State Capitol to advocate on behalf of her son, one too many times.
“I shouldn't have to come at all. I mean, this is ridiculous that these kinds of bills are introduced,” Rey told Capital Tonight.
Rey and her family awaited the fate of House Bill 1399.
The measure discourages doctors from providing transition-related care and prescribing puberty blockers to anyone under 18 years old. Rey’s son is eight and his mom said he is well aware about what is happening in his state.
“He's started to be very distracted at school, his teachers are worried about him. It's true that people say, you know, the reason that transgender children and adults need mental health care is not because they're transgender, it's because of the way society treats them,” Rey said.
Bill supporters said they have heard testimony from adults who have come to regret such medical decisions later on. Capital Tonight previously spoke to the bill’s author, Rep. Matt Krause, R-Tyler, when the measure was taken up in a public hearing.
Krause said, “There's other ways, I think, for Texas, Texans to support, respect, and affirm folks without doing these potentially life altering, or reparable surgeries.”
But House Democrats believe this bill does not really protect youth, and that the discussions should be left up to individual families and their doctors.
“Even though we've made great advances and strides around LGBTQ justice, we do see these anti-discriminatory pieces of legislation, because we have a very gerrymandered state,” said, Rep. Mary Gonzalez, D-El Paso.
Thursday marked a critical hurdle to move House bills forward, so there was incentive to run down the clock to try prevent lawmakers from taking up more contentious issues. The parliamentary stall tactic could mean there was no time left for bipartisan bills further down in the House calendar, but lawmakers said there are important conversations to be had.
“There's a lot of important discussions that are taking up a lot of time, and we may not get there today,” Gonzalez said.
Regardless of whether or not these bills reach the Governor’s desk, families said their lives have already been changed. After Thursday, House legislators can still take up Senate bills, meanwhile the upper chamber does not nearly have as many deadlines. Other Senate bills affecting the LGTBQ community can still be considered, including a bill would which deems providing transition-related care as child abuse.
Despite being native Texans, Rey said her family is already thinking about moving out of state.
“It just makes me mad (that) just to protect him and just to feel like he's gonna have the future he deserves, we have to leave,” she said.