The fight over transgender issues, fought on several fronts in recent years, has increasingly focused on medical treatment for children.
Major medical groups – as well as transgender advocates – support what is known as gender-affirming care, which involves supporting a child’s gender identity and social transition, often through clothes or a name. This care may also possibly include puberty blockers or hormone treatments, although genital surgery is generally not recommended for children. While acknowledging some uncertainty and risk, they cite evidence that the approach can improve children’s mental health and reduce suicide.
Opponents – including some major conservative organizations – argue that children are too young to decide for themselves and should be protected from potentially life-changing treatments that have only recently gained widespread acceptance by the medical community.
Those at the center of the conservative push for new state laws include a coalition of familiar groups — the Heritage Foundation, the Family Policy Alliance and the Alliance Defending Freedom — that have come together over the past two years.
Then last month a new player on the right, American Principles Project, took up the cause in Texas, spending more than $600,000 to run a series of highly produced cable TV ads featuring Mr Younger’s case. , who has become an outspoken supporter of restrictive legislation on transgender issues. The ads directly targeted Mr Abbott in a hard-fought Republican primary, accusing the governor of failing to take action to ‘protect our children’.
By then, Mr. Younger, 57, had testified several times at the Capitol in Austin about measures to restrict transgender medical treatment. After the bills failed, he entered the Republican primary for an open seat in the Texas House of Representatives.
Last week, Mr. Younger came in second place, advancing to the second round in May.
For conservative activists, the legislative push is part of a larger national fight over social issues, including legislation in Florida to ban teaching about gender identity in schools. Some of the same activists who defend parents’ rights in battles over school curricula argue that, on the issue of transgender treatment, children need protection from their own parents.