Friday’s edition of the tax-supported PBS NewsHour reacted with alarm about the news that what the left calls “gender-affirming medical care” for children (i.e., puberty blockers, hormone treatments, and irrevocable surgeries) has been outlawed in Texas. It featured reporter Laura Barron-Lopez, surely busy between her fixation on teenage gender dysphoria and her official job as NewsHour’s White House correspondent.
Puberty blockers were used off-label to treat “gender dysphoria” and whose side effects, including possible infertility, have not been comprehensively explored. While the U.S. healthcare complex continued to roll them out, medical groups in Europe and elsewhere were withdrawing previous support.
The father explained in detail the family’s difficulties seeking out so-called gender care, while Barron-Lopez wrung her hands about all the “disruptions to their life,” including “more financial burden.”
She even chided President Biden — from the left — for being insufficiently involved in helping one family help their boy somehow become a girl.
(Indeed, Barron-Lopez had ranted about “anti-LGBTQ…intimidation” to Biden during a White House press conference in June.)
Biden had not called the family but expressed support. Barron-Lopez strongly suggested the White House had not gone far enough to put the entire federal apparatus in motion to intervene on behalf of Leah, noting Leah’s parents “feel as though they haven’t seen many actions on behalf of the administration….”
September 1, 2023
7:12:17 p.m. (ET)
John Yang: A ban on gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth when into effect in Texas today, making it the most populous state to date with a ban.
An estimated 30,000 young people in Texas between the ages of 13 and 17 identify as transgender. The new law revokes the medical licenses of any doctor who provides minors with gender-affirming medical care, like puberty blockers, hormone treatments, or surgeries.
Beyond Texas, gender-affirming care for some 300,000 young people who identify as transgender is under threat.
Laura Barrón-López has been following all of this.
Laura, what is the situation in Texas right now?
Laura Barrón-López: Right now, the law is fully in effect, and it is going to ban providers from giving puberty blockers, hormone treatments, surgeries, which are very rare for minors, to transgender youth in the state of Texas.
And it’s also going to require that, if any of these patients are currently receiving those treatments, that they’re weaned off of it. Now, advocates on the ground have told me that, ultimately, already, providers and pharmacies are not even trying to approach that weaning off, that they just simply are going to stop providing treatment altogether.
John Yang: And are these still fighting this in court?
Laura Barrón-López: They are.
So what happens next is that litigation is going to continue to play out even as this law takes effect. And, ultimately, the Texas Supreme Court is going to decide whether or not this law is constitutional under Texas’ state Constitution.
But I asked the Texas attorney general’s office what their response was to this law taking effect. They said that they are going to enforce it fully and that this law, they claim, is designed to protect transgender youth from these what they say are damaging gender transition interventions.
Now, it’s important to note that all of the major American medical associations say that this is — gender-affirming medical care helps transgender youth, that it often prevents suicidal ideations, and that it is their professional recommendation that transgender youth have access to this care.
John Yang: You have been tracking a young transgender girl in the Austin, Texas, area and her family. How are they reacting to this?
Laura Barrón-López: A few months ago, I traveled to Texas to speak to Leah, Mary and John , who — Leah is a 12-year-old transgender girl in the Austin Texas area.
And I spoke to them today about what they’re feeling right now in the aftermath of this law taking effect. And we changed their names and provided anonymity, due to the fact that families like theirs are facing threats.
Mary, Mother: It kind of took my breath away, even though we were expecting it. I guess I just had some hope going into this.
Laura Barrón-López: And have you two spoken to Leah about the fact that this law is going to go into effect? How is she feeling right now?
Mary: She did specifically ask us, like: “Are we going to have to move? I don’t want to move. I love school this year. I love my teachers. I have friends.”
And so we’re just letting her know that, at this point, we’re just going to do what we need to do to keep her here, but still do what she needs. And I’m hoping that that’s going to be enough and that we don’t have to pick up and leave at this time.
Laura Barrón-López: It’s an emotional day for the family. They told me that they feel like it’s a betrayal by the state, that they love living in Texas, and they really don’t want to have to leave, but that, ultimately, right now, they’re put under a lot of stress to find care for their child.
John Yang: And what are they going to have to do to find that care? What’s the road ahead look like for them?
Laura Barrón-López: Mary and John told me that, at this point, Leah is ready for puberty blockers. And puberty blockers would pause her development into puberty into a gender that she does not identify with.
And so, right now, they received a referral from their previous provider to seek out care in New Mexico. New Mexico is a 12-hour drive for them from the Austin area. And they’re essentially waiting to hear whether or not they’re going to be able to schedule an appointment
John, Father: we’re going to have to make arrangements with the out-of-state providers, and really start thinking about how and when and how often we need to go, make those plans with our employers, obviously take time off
More than likely, there will have to be schooled time off to be able to do this. So it’s definitely a situation where it disrupts life, work, school, financially.
Laura Barrón-López: A lot of disruptions to their life, John .
And Mary did call that clinic today. But, again, they don’t have any word yet on whether or not they’re going to get an appointment. And if they are not able to get an appointment at that New Mexico clinic within the next six months, Mary and John told me that they’re going to have to look at other states very quickly, and that those states could be even further away, cause more disruptions and more financial burden.
John Yang: In a news conference about three months ago, you mentioned this family and what they’re going through to President Biden. At the time, the president sounded like he might call them. What’s happened since then?
Laura Barrón-López: Well, the president, John , has not called the family.
But, today, the president did direct his senior adviser for public engagement and a liaison to the LGBT community, Hannah Bristol, to call the family. And she called them.
And a White House official told us that: “On behalf of the president, Bristol express that the president stands with Leah and her parents at this time.”
Bristol also told the family that the president believes that parents like them, Mary and John , should be supported and applauded for what they’re doing to help their child.
And now the — Mary and John also told me that what they said to Hannah Bristol, and they said that they expressed some frustration with the fact that, while they appreciate the supportive words from the federal government, that they feel as though they haven’t seen many actions on behalf of the administration, and that they specifically told this White House senior adviser that — quote — “Anywhere I go, I don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
And that they feel as though they’re tiptoeing through their life in Texas.
Now, Hannah Bristol told them that they should always feel free to contact her, to contact the White House to share the experience that they’re going to, and that they would be in touch with the family throughout this process.
John Yang: How does this Texas law fit in with all the other laws that are sort of enacted around the country?
Laura Barrón-López: John, 22 states have laws on the books that ban some form of gender-affirming care for transgender minors, meaning they either banned puberty blockers, hormone treatments, or surgeries, or all three.
And more than half of those state’s bans are fully or partially in effect right now. Some of them have yet to take effect and others have been blocked by the courts.
Now, I spoke to a lawyer with Lambda Legal today who has been fighting on behalf of these families who have transgender children in courthouses across the country. And he described all of this as a patchwork of litigation, a patchwork of legislation that is putting families in an untenable position
And so families like Leah’s are having a lot of uncertainty, are going to have a lot of uncertainty over the coming months and years.