Lawsuit over Texas law restricting gender treatments for minors gets court hearing

A two-day hearing in a lawsuit challenging the Texas law banning gender treatments for minors began Tuesday.

The new law prohibits minors from receiving treatments such as puberty blockers and…

A two-day hearing in a lawsuit challenging the Texas law banning gender treatments for minors began Tuesday.

The new law prohibits minors from receiving treatments such as puberty blockers and hormone therapy, as well as gender-altering surgeries.

One month after SB 14 was signed by Gov. Abbott in June, a lawsuit was filed in Travis County District Court seeking to block it on grounds it violates parental-right protections in the Texas Constitution.

Travis County District Court Judge Maia Cantú Hexsel heard witnesses for the plaintiffs on Tuesday and for the state on Wednesday.

During the legislative session, lawmakers supporting the bill argued that puberty blockers and hormone therapies put young patients at risk for fertility loss and a reduction of bone density, according to The Texas Tribune.

However, witnesses for the plaintiffs, which include five families with transgender children, three doctors, and two LGBT pro-organizations, attempted to argue the treatments do more good than harm.

For example, Dr. Daniel Shumer, a pediatric endocrinologist at the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, claimed hormone treatments don’t always eliminate the possibility of having children for patients. 

“I would not consider estrogen or testosterone the end of the story for fertility,” Dr. Shumer said, according to the Tribune. 

But witnesses for the defendants, which include the state of Texas, the Office of the Attorney General, the Texas Medical Board and Texas Health and Human Services Commission, challenged the claim. 

Soren Aldaco, a 21-year-old female detransitioner, testified about how she regretted the hormone therapy and double mastectomy she underwent. 

“Eventually, it felt gross,” she told the court, according to KERA News. “I was happy that I was being affirmed, but I think it was just that. But the actual mode of affirmation was very detrimental to my health overall.” 

Aldaco filed a lawsuit this summer against her Texas doctors for putting her on testosterone as a minor, which caused several side effects. The lawsuit also alleges her doctors botched her double breast removal and didn’t inform her of the risks.

“Notably, to this day, it is still clinically uncertain what the long-term consequences are for the use of these cross-sex hormones in minors, but certain grotesque risks are well known within the medical literature including, for women, infertility, vaginal atrophy, bone density and growth complications, and many other disfiguring side-effects,” the lawsuit reads.  

Dr. Johanna Olson-Kennedy, medical director of the Center for Transyouth Health and Development at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, also testified for the plaintiffs.

Olson-Kennedy told the court that puberty blockers were life-saving for many patients, referring to better mental health outcomes, but failed to elaborate on the negative consequence she emphasized just a few years ago. 

“We used to really celebrate when our patients graduated high school,” Olson-Kennedy testified, according to Texas Public Radio. “Now I feel that because of access to services being more available, people are finishing college, they are going to grad school … people are really thriving in their lives.” 

However, Olson-Kennedy previously warned of the significant negative effects of hormone treatments on minors.

During a speech at the 2017 Gender Odyssey, she told the audience that not only are emotional stability and significant behavioral changes some of the side effects of blockers, but another reason kids were “doing so bad” on the drugs was because it was putting them in menopause.  

“Menopause is bad enough when you’re menopause-age, but when you’re 14 and you’re having hot flashes, memory problems, insomnia, and you feel like crap, it is really terrible,” she said. “This is very common. What happens when you put a 14-year-old in menopause? You’re shutting down their ovaries.”

Other witnesses for the state included an evolutionary biologist and a clinical psychologist. 

Neuropsychologist Dr. Clifford Hopewell testified that many gender-dysphoric youth receive treatments but “don’t reflect on consequences,” KERA reported.

And biologist Colin Wright, who has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology and ecology from the University of California Santa Barbara, testified that while individuals can modify their secondary sex characteristics, such as body hair and breast development, sex is immutable, the Tribune reported.

The author of the bill under scrutiny, Rep. Tom Oliverson, R-District 130, said he knew the new law would be challenged but believes it won’t be overturned. 

“Children in Texas are officially protected from harmful, experimental medical and surgical treatments for gender dysphoria,” Oliverson tweeted after the governor signed the bill. “Thank you for signing SB14 @GovAbbot. We knew there would be court challenges. SB14 was written with that in mind and will prevail.” 

However the judge rules, an appeal in the case is expected.