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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas Senate bill 1029 would limit access to ‘gender modification surgeries’

Photo by Kaili Gaston

Matthew Klement, a sophomore (2025) kinesiology major, outside of St Joseph’s Health on Feb. 26, 2023.

Recently proposed bills in Texas and Florida aim to place restrictions on insurance coverage of reassignment treatment and procedures, and would make hospitals liable for malpractice lawsuits. 

Texas Sen. Bob Hall introduced Texas Senate bill 1029 to the state’s 88th Legislative Session on Feb. 17. The bill would inhibit government entities from funding “gender modification surgeries” as well as make hospitals and private insurance companies liable for any malpractice claims or additional expenses incurred post-treatment. The bill includes vasectomies and hysterectomies, but allows exceptions for individuals with a “medically verifiable genetic disorder of sex development” such as intersex.

In an email to The Battalion, Hall’s Chief of Staff Amy Lane sent a statement saying that transgender healthcare facilities are “exploding” across the state, and reassignment treatments are increasing, especially among minors. The statement says that although initial treatments and procedures are typically covered by insurances, on-going treatments or detransitioning surgeries are not. 

“This bill makes private health benefit plans strictly liable for the lifetime care of the patient for consequences of gender modification treatment or procedures covered by the plan,” the statement reads. 

Applied mathematical sciences sophomore Mars Hartweg, a transgender man and associate officer for Transcend, a student organization for transgender and nonbinary students, said if the bill is passed, people would be emboldened to disparage the transgender community. 

“People are seeing, ‘oh the government says it’s OK to hate trans people, so I’m going to be more violent than I was before,’” Hartweg said. 

Proponents of the bill, such as economics senior Rachel Sweeney, president of Texas A&M Young Americans for Freedom, said this proposal was a step in the right direction for Texas by not allowing government funding to go toward these treatments.

“It’s a good bill,” Sweeney said. “I think that it’s definitely something that the government shouldn’t be funding — the state of Texas shouldn’t be funding. I think it’s very detrimental, especially for children.” 

Although the bill references minors, there is nothing that says it would apply exclusively to those under-18. Accounting sophomore Jacob Brewer said, even though he agreed with some aspects of the bill, it was overall too restrictive.

“The biggest thing I have a problem with is banning the surgery for adults,” Brewer said. “If you’re going to ban the trans surgery, you might as well ban a lot of things for adults.”

Although the bill would not completely ban the procedures, it would make it less accessible. Brewer said he agreed with restricting puberty blockers and treatments on being used on minors citing that it can cause permanent damage to children. The statement sent by Lane reiterates this idea.  

“The sad reality is that the use of hormone blockers, cross-sex, hormone treatments and gender modification surgeries are not without complications,” the statement reads. “The use of hormone blockers causes decreased bone density, disrupts normal bone development and increases mental health problems.”

The drugs suppress estrogen and testosterone, which affects not only the reproductive system, but also bones, brain and other aspects of the body, according to The New York Times. While some doctors said they believe trans patients will recover after stopping blockers, there have been some studies showing they don’t fully rebound and fall behind peers. Some doctors suggest not using them, according to The New York Times.

“Puberty can help clarify gender, the doctors say — for some adolescents reinforcing their sex at birth, and for others confirming that they are transgender,” the article reads.  

The concern regarding bone density for trans youth on puberty blockers is valid, however, puberty blockers aren’t solely used for trans minors, said Mindy Bergman, Ph.D., professor in and interim department head for the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.

“Let’s say a girl develops her adult body at a very young age, like 8, doctors apply puberty blockers because of the mental health strain and body strain of being too young,” Bergman said. “We see that, even very early, for some people to delay purity for a few years until they are ready.”

In regard to getting reassignment surgery and transition, Brewer said the age should be raised to 21. 

“That’s the age we’ve decided for drinking alcohol,” Brewer said. “We just raised the age to purchase tobacco products. I think with the surgery that as life altering as this, 21 would be an appropriate age for the surgery.”

Preventing or limiting access for reassignment surgery and treatment for adults is difficult for libertarians like Sweeney, who said she sees both sides. If an adult has their own money and doesn’t use government funding, they should be able to have the surgery, Sweeney said.

“But, on the other hand, it’s just — it’s very detrimental, and I think a lot of these are experiments,” Sweeney said. “How much remedy can hospitals really provide after they’ve completed these services? I would be in the camp of, we should ban these procedures altogether.” 

However, Hartweg and entomology sophomore Juniper Danielsen, a trans woman, both said they knew from a young age they were trans despite not having the vocabulary for it at the time. 

“I realized I was trans when I was about 10 years old,” Danielsen said. “Before that I was even more feminine for someone who was born male.”

The bill claims clinics and insurances promote these treatments for monetary gain rather than the patient’s best interest, however, Hartweg said it’s in trans patients’ best interest to have access to these resources. 

“Statistics show that supporting transitioning transgender people greatly increases the likelihood that they’ll survive into adulthood or later adult life,” Hartweg said. 

This bill is not guaranteed to pass, with thousands of bills proposed each legislative session. Brewer said he doesn’t think it’s likely for the bill to even make it to the voting stage. 

However, Danielsen said this bill is just another example of notorious hate toward the transgender community who are just trying to live their lives and not be ostracized.

“Gender dysphoria can just knock you out,” Danielsen said. “You could be all dolled up and pretty if you’re a transgender woman and still be like, ‘I will be noticed as a man. Someone will call me a man.’ And, it will just ruin your day. It’ll ruin you for a while.”

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