Politics

Harris County Passes Resolution Opposing Bills Targeting Trans Kids

The measure, authored by County Judge Lina Hidalgo, passed 3-2 on a party-line vote.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo speaks during a remote Commissioners Court meeting on April 27, 2021. Hidalgo introduced a resolution to formally condemn bills targeting transgender children in the Texas Legislature, which passed along party lines.

Harris County Commissioners Court on Tuesday passed a resolution in support of the county's transgender children, in response to a slate of bills in the Texas legislature that would ban transition health care for trans kids.

The measure, authored by Democratic Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, opposed Republican bills that would bar gender reassignment surgeries, punish doctors who perform such surgeries, and charge parents with child abuse if they allow children to take puberty blockers or hormone therapy, or undergo gender-affirming surgeries.

The resolution also opposed related bills that would bar trans children from participating in youth sports.

“My resolution basically states that the Commissioners Court opposes anti-transgender children bills, and will uphold the diversity and inclusivity of the county,” Hidalgo said. "It seems to me that children face enough challenges as it is in school.”

The vote was 3-2 along party lines.

The sole individual to speak on the resolution was Pastor Dave Welch, executive director of the Houston Area Pastor Council and president of the Texas Pastor Council.

Welch – who previously led the fight against the since-repealed Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, or HERO, which protected transgender rights – spoke in opposition. HERO opponents succesfully framed that ordinance as a “bathroom bill,” insisting without evidence that such laws create a safety risk for women.

Welch made a similar argument Tuesday, saying efforts to be inclusive toward trans children actually force girls “to be indecently exposed” in showers and locker rooms. Welch also argued that children are too young to make the decision for themselves to pursue, "permanent and damaging treatments and surgeries."

The Republican county commissioners echoed each of those points in framing their opposition to the resolution, with Commissioner Jack Cagle comparing it to things like drinking, smoking and voting, all of which are banned for minors.

"I think that we should not make such decisions by minors until they have the ability to decide for themselves when they are older, and it will not impact the remainder of their lives,” Cagle said.

Democratic County Commissioner Adrian Garcia, who votd to pass the resolution, referred back to his time as county sheriff and asserted that the sheriff's office, "has done more this century to make the jail a safer place for transgender people than the Legislature has done to make schools a safe place."

Democratic County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, who seconded the resolution, said it was important to apply pressure to legislators as they mull such bills.

"Look, the timing is important, because we're getting down to the last five or six weeks of the legislative session," Ellis said. "The easy political thing to do would be to just duck, lay low, and not speak out on it. And so, I'm proud of (Judge Hidalgo) for putting it on there."

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media’s business reporter, covering the oil...

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