A mother of a transgender boy broke down before the lawmakers as she delivered a powerful speech against a bill that would criminalise parents who provide gender-transition healthcare support to their children.
“I’m terrified to be here today,” said Amber Briggle said reading from her phone at the Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs at a hearing about the bills.
She choked up with emotions as she said: “I’m afraid that by speaking here today that my words will be used against me should S.B. 1646 or S.B. 1311 pass, and my sweet son whom I love more than life itself will be taken from me.”
Four bills that would seek to restrict transgender in Texas to use health care will be considered at the State Capitol this week.
The legislation would criminalise parents for helping their child under the age of 18 to get access to any form of transition-related care, adding it to the State’s definition of child abuse.
Texas’s Senate Bill (SB) 1646 would change the child abuse definition to include “consenting to or assisting in the administering or supplying of, a puberty suppression prescription drug or cross-sex hormone to a child.”
Ms Briggle clarified that the surgeries are not performed on minors while Republicans cite it as a reason to ban gender-affirming healthcare for minors. She said puberty blockers are 100 per cent reversible and help in reducing suicidal thoughts in trans people.
She said when her son was four, he asked her if scientists could turn him into a boy. She didn’t understand it then but knew he “wasn’t like most girls his age and that something inside him was hurting.”
“Like many of you, I thought he was asking for surgery, and I freaked out,” she said.
She said her son is now 13 and “the most popular boy in the seventh grade.” He is loved by friends, family, church members, and community and this is because her parents provide him medical support he needs and affirm him.
“Taking that support away from him, or worse, taking him away from his family because we broke the law to provide that support – will have devastating and heartbreaking consequences,” she said tearing up.
Ms Briggle said if the bill becomes law then that would be child abuse and “I promise I will call every single one of you every time a transgender child dies from suicide to remind you that their lives could have been saved, but you chose not to.”
A doctors group has also opposed the laws, writing an open letter to the lawmakers for sponsoring the laws that would ban the medical help to the children and against the standards of care and the peer-reviewed medical literature
The care given to children and youth with “gender dysphoria is tailored to their specific needs by a team of highly trained providers, including paediatricians, mental health specialists, endocrinologists, surgeons, and allies and supporters including parents and guardians,” a group, Doctors For Change, wrote.
“In our experience, affirmation and acceptance from parents, guardians, physicians, and all other important adults in a child’s life is extremely beneficial to the child’s health outcomes and happiness,” said the letter.
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