Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says Republicans will prioritize barring transgender minors from receiving gender-affirming medical treatments in 2023, according to a report from the Dallas Morning News.
As a guest on conservative host Mark Davis' radio show Wednesday morning, Patrick outlined the state GOP's plan for handling sensitive transgender issues, specifically involving youths.
"If someone chooses to be gay, you know, that's their lifestyle. Just don't try to turn the world upside down about it," said Patrick, while also touting Florida's signed bill from last week, prohibiting elementary-school educators from discussing sexualized matters in school, with children ages 5 to 7.
"If the LGBTQ [community] has folks that want to do these things, they have to understand other people have rights, too, and girls and women have rights, and parents have rights to say, I don't want my kindergarten, first- or second-grader to learn about being gay or lesbian or they can change their sex."
Two months ago, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a nonbinding opinion, classifying certain medical treatments for transgender youth as "child abuse." Citing Paxton's declaration, Gov. Greg Abbott then directed the state's Child Protective Services division to investigate any allegations linked to this care.
Since that announcement, Texas state officials have reportedly opened at least nine investigations into matters of potential child abuse, involving transgender minors.
Patrick agrees with the framework of Gov. Abbott's decree. But the state legislature still needs to do more regarding policing LGBTQ issues with minors.
"I'm not blaming [the state GOP], but if you're going to kill a bill over there in the House, then stand up and take credit for it," Patrick said. "It's getting a little old, quite frankly. The House — not the members, but leadership — killing strong conservative legislation that passes the Senate."
Patrick added: "If you can take a life [via abortion], just because you choose to in the womb, well, then you play God. If you can change your sex, well, then, you play God.
"This is a battle of those who believe that they are God and have control over life and death and even their sex, and those who believe there is a Creator, who believe in God, believe in Jesus Christ," said Patrick. "Whatever their denomination is and their faith is, they believe there is a higher power who decides life and a higher power who designed us as human beings."
In a retort to Patrick, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said the GOP is more consumed with culture wars than access to healthcare.
"I'm not sure what his God is saying about that kind of stuff. My God says you need to be worried about those kinds of things," said Hinojosa, according to the Morning News. "He picks and chooses what he thinks is Christian or not. Talk about playing God."
Ricardo Martinez, executive director of the LGBTQ rights organization Equality Texas, said he believes all people are divine and denying another person's divinity undermines the "deepest lesson common to all faiths — love."
"Many LGBTQ+ people are people of faith and have found a spiritual home in faith communities across the state, and it is not a politician’s place to decide who is God-fearing and who is not," said Martinez in a statement.
"Hundreds of faith leaders across Texas put their faith in action by creating safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people to practice and worship. These communities of faith are safe places in a hostile society. Faith should be a tool to uplift, to support, and to nurture; it should not be used as a weapon. Our faith is a source of dignity, respect, and strength. Dan Patrick cannot take that away from us."
Patrick's comments, regarding the transgender-minors debate, come on the heels of Xavier Becerra, President Joe Biden's pick as Health and Human Services secretary, fielding a controversial question in Congress on Wednesday.
"For the record, do you support HHS funding sex-reassignment surgery on minors?" asked Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., during a House judiciary hearing.
To which Becerra replied, "I'll do everything I can to defend any American, including children, who fit the categories ... for gender-affirming care, in order to protect the rights of every American."
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