Here in Texas we are now traveling in time, moving back into a medieval world where politicians fancy themselves physicians. 

The attacks on family planning have outlawed abortion. Now conservative, mostly white male lawmakers led by their theocratic leaders like Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and House Speaker Dade Phelan want to stop physicians and therapists from treating transgender minors who have the support of their families to receive gender-transition care.

Medical professionals are driven not by party politics. Their foundation of knowledge and decision-making is built on research, experience and a desire to help children experiencing gender dysphoria. These children are especially susceptible to bullying, depression and suicide. Such medical care is now deemed inappropriate by conservative politicians with zero medical expertise, acting purely on ingrained biases.

The House has joined the Senate in passing a bill outlawing the use of puberty-blocking pharmaceuticals and hormone treatments for minors under 18. Transition surgeries, seldom prescribed, also would be banned. The House version calls for trans youth under 18 currently being treated to be weaned from drugs to reverse their effects less abruptly. The Senate bill would simply cut off treatments immediately.

It’s no wonder families with transgender children, many of whom are successfully treated without drug therapies or or even rarer surgeries, are reluctantly leaving the state, seeing their lives and livelihoods traumatically uprooted by medical necessity. Texas and a dozen other states that already have passed such laws will surely face years of litigation in the courts by the American Civil Liberties Union and the LGBTQ group Lambda Legal, which already have filed a lawsuit in Tennessee seeking to overturn that state’s anti-transgender bill.

There will be no shortage of expert witnesses should the cases go to trial. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the Endocrine Society, the World Medical Association and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health are among the 30 leading professional medical organizations affirming the necessity of recognizing and treating gender dysphoria. 

Who opposes such treatment? Red-state politicians pushing such legislation have turned to a traveling coterie of formerly trans individuals who once sought such treatment, including surgeries, only later to regret their decisions and return to their biological gender identity. The vast community of experts supporting trans care and the children and families they treat are never accorded the same legislative welcome at hearings designed to vilify the entire conversation about gender-affirming care. A statistically insignificant group, like the lifelong smokers who do not succumb to cancer, serve as cover for belying reality.

New laws prohibiting exploration of gender identity in K-12 classrooms are also passing in the same states. In Texas, such legislation is embedded in another controversial bill authorizing cash vouchers for parents who want to pull their children from public schools and send them to faith-based schools that do not have to meet the same performance and accountability standards.

Ask yourself: Would you allow a Texas legislator to prescribe your son or daughter’s orthopedic treatment after a sports injury at school? Shall conservative Republicans be trusted to set new prenatal treatment for the state’s pregnant women?

What comes next from the state’s morality police? The order to arrest and beat women who won’t cover their hair?

The very notion of these politicians as caring healers who put children’s mental health and well-being first is absurd. The politicians pushing these repressive laws find themselves fearfully stumbling through issues they do not understand. Their collective instinct is to tread backward into an analog era, a simpler world with far fewer channels, one that stigmatizes people who didn’t look, sound and think just like them. 

Ignorance, at least for the moment, is prevailing over science and learning. The House version of Senate Bill 14, we learned Wednesday, now goes to the governor for his signature.

People who are different, who don’t conform on gender identity, who choose personal pronouns that discomfort aging white, conservative politicians, cannot be legislated back into closets. The looming new law is simp;ly the latest effort to attack cities and their diverse populations, especially the LGBTQ community.

The only hope now is that marginalized people in Texas and all those who accept and support them will harness the power of their vote and truly exercise it. All of this can and will be reversed. 

Robert Rivard, co-founder of the San Antonio Report who retired in 2022, has been a working journalist for 46 years. He is the host of the bigcitysmalltown podcast.