State troopers were called in to remove hundreds of people from the gallery of the Texas House as protesters disrupted debate over a bill about transgender youth.
Protesters from opposing sides of the bill that would limit gender-affirming care for minors filled the capitol on Tuesday (May 2).
The protests centred on Senate Bill 14 intended to block treatment including surgery, puberty blockers and hormone therapy while also proposing to revoke a doctor’s license if they violated the law.
However, debate and a vote was blocked by a point of order and the bill was sent back to committee.
Protesters were cleared out of the House after they unfurled banners and chanted slogans.
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Niki Griswold, state politics reporter, said on Twitter that as the gallery was cleared, activists chanted, “Trans rights are human rights” and “What do we want? Trans rights! When do we want it? Now!”
Ricardo Martinez, who heads LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Texas, told reporters that people were “scared and angry”.
He said: “The weight of it, you can feel it palpably because people are struggling.
“This bill does nothing to improve the lives of Texans. It’s just going to make it miserable and impossible for some of us.”
Johnathan Saenz, president of Texas Values which led support for the bill, said that mental health treatments were a better option for gender dysphoria.
“When you have kids go through gender transitions, it harms them,” Saenz told WFAA-TV.
“Let’s focus on the heart instead of thinking that removing body parts is somehow going to make their mind feel better.”
Martinez estimated that the bill is one of 140 targeting LGBTQ Texans, including criminalizing drag shows and limiting discussion in classrooms.
A study by the Williams Institute at UCLA reportedly estimated that there are 92,900 transgender adults in Texas, with 29,800 of them 13 to 17 years of age.