On Friday, Texas became the most populous state with a ban in effect against gender-affirming care for minors.
The law was allowed to kick in after a court ruling on Thursday, part of a flurry of action across the country on policies aimed at transgender people and their rights. A separate Texas ruling blocked a law that drag show performers feared would shut them down.
Here’s a look at the latest developments and what’s next.
TEXAS GENDER-AFFIRMING CARE BAN TAKES EFFECT
In its ruling Thursday, the Texas Supreme Court allowed a law banning gender-affirming care including puberty blockers, hormones and surgery for minors.
The ruling is not final, but allows enforcement of the law while courts determine whether it’s constitutional. The decision is also a reversal of a lower court from the week before, when a state judge had said the law should be put on hold while it’s sorted out.
Since 2021, 22 Republican-controlled states have passed laws restricting access to gender-affirming care for minors. At least 13 states, meanwhile, have adopted measures intended to protect access.
There are legal challenges to the policies across the country, and there isn’t a clear pattern for how courts handle them. None have reached a final court decision.
COURTS HOLD HEARINGS ON CARE RESTRICTIONS IN THREE STATES
Two hearings scheduled for Friday will address the issue.
A panel from the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court was set to hear arguments on whether the bans on puberty blockers and hormones for minors in both Kentucky and Tennessee should be allowed to be enforced.
A Florida state judge, meanwhile, will hear from both sides on two key issues on that state’s law on gender-affirming care.
Earlier this year, a federal judge said the law could not be enforced against the three transgender children whose families are challenging it. Now, those families are asking a federal court to extend that narrow ruling to block enforcement pertaining to all children.
The Florida law also has a unique wrinkle banning gender-affirming hormone therapy for adults from being prescribed by telemedicine or by nurse practitioners. A judge is considering whether to pause enforcement of those provisions, which advocates say keep people from getting care they need.
It was not clear when rulings might be released regarding the bans in any of the three states.
ALASKA MOVES TO RESTRICT SPORTS PARTICIPATION FOR TRANSGENDER GIRLS
The Alaska state board of education on Thursday voted in favor of a policy that would keep transgender girls out of girls sports competitions.
The board’s action is a major step, but not the final one for the policy.
It’s up to Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor to decide whether to implement it. The attorney general, like the school board, was appointed by Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy, who has called for such a ban.
At least 24 states have adopted laws restricting sports participation, including four where courts have put enforcement on hold.
KANSAS NO LONGER HAS TO CHANGE BIRTH CERTIFICATES
A federal judge ruled Thursday that Kansas officials no longer have to change transgender people’s birth certificates to match their gender identities.
The ruling undoes a 2019 federal consent agreement that required the state to make the changes when asked. The reason for the change is a new state law that defines male and female as the sex assigned at birth.
The ruling puts Kansas among a small group of states, including Montana, Oklahoma and Tennessee, that bar such birth certificate changes. Under a separate legal filing from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in July, the state is among a few that do not allow people to change the sex on their driver’s licenses.
TEXAS LAW THAT DRAG PERFORMERS FEARED IS PUT ON HOLD
Not all the latest developments are losses for transgender people.
A federal judge on Thursday temporarily blocked a new Texas law that drag show artists feared would be used to shut them down or put them in jail.
The law, which expands the definition of what’s considered an illegal public performance of sexual conduct in front of children, was scheduled to take effect on Friday.
But a group of LGBTQ+ rights advocate and drag performers sued to block it. U.S. District Judge David Hittner agreed with their contention that it likely violates the First Amendment and paused enforcement while he prepares a more permanent order in the case.
Judges have also blocked enforcement of bans on drag performances in Florida and Tennessee.
This week, advocates filed a lawsuit in Tennessee trying to stop a local prosecutor who said he intends to enforce the law there despite the federal court ruling.
CANADA RESPONDS WITH A TRAVEL ADVISORY
Canada this week updated its travel advisory to the U.S., alerting members of the LGBTQ+ community that some states have enacted laws that could affect them.
The advisory doesn’t single out states and it doesn’t go as far as telling Canadians not to travel to the neighboring nation. Instead, it tells them to check local laws.
Non-government groups have issued similar warnings. In June, the Human Rights Campaign, the largest U.S.-based group devoted to LGBTQ+ rights, declared a state of emergency for community members in the U.S.
And in May, the NAACP issued a travel advisory about Florida citing policies and laws including bans on gender-affirming care for minors, requirements that transgender people use school bathrooms that don’t match their gender, and restrictions on drag performances — although those were later put on hold.
Geoff Mulvihill, The Associated Press