Texas doctor and GOP activist kicked out of state Senate after smearing trans people as paedophiles
A Texas doctor and anti-trans Republican activist was removed from a state Senate hearing after repeatedly falsely accusing trans people and their healthcare providers of being paedophiles, but it was his use of the word “bull****” that appeared to be the final straw.
Houston-area doctor Steven Hotze testified to a state Senate committee on 16 March in support of several bills targeting LGBT+ people, joining a wave of state-level legislation across the US to criminalise gender-affirming care.
Democratic state Senator Jose Menendez pushed back against the doctor’s inflammatory rhetoric, but he continued to baselessly smear trans people and their providers: “By definition, they are paedophiles.”
“I would just ask you to refrain from calling people paedophiles. I don’t think the doctors that have come before us are paedophiles,” Mr Menendez said. “I don’t think it’s inappropriate for you to call people you don’t know paedophiles … I have trans friends, I have trans staff members, I have trans members of our community … It’s hurtful to them.”
Mr Menendez said trans people “are living their true selves,” to which Mr Hotze replied “that’s bull***,” prompting lawmakers to boot him from the committee.
Dr Cody Pyke, who testified to the committee, clarified that Mr Hotze was only ejected for his use of profanity, not for his transphobic slurs.
Republican committee chair Bryan Hughes “seemed to take no issue with transphobia, only profanity,” Dr Pyke said.
Profanity is prohibited in the state legislature. After the doctor said “bull****,” state Senator Hughes said: “Dr Hotze, we don’t use that kind of language. You’re excused.”
In their testifmony, Dr Pyke discussed the risks of suicide and threats of violence facing young trans people.
“Since transitioning myself, I have been subject to physical and verbal assaults by complete strangers on the streets,” they said. “It’s not a fad; it’s not a social contagion. It is a real identity, and we deserve your protection, not your hatred.”
Dr Hotze has repeatedly smeared LGBT+ people in the state; in 2016, he compared gay people to “termites“ that “eat away at the very moral fabric of the foundation of our country,” according to The Houston Chronicle.
Dr Hotze also is behind a lawsuit to prevent employer-provided health insurance from covering the HIV prevention drug PrEP. Last year, he was charged with aggravated assault in connection with an investigation into allegations of voter fraud that involved a private investigator waving a gun at an innocent air conditioning repairman.
Among other measures aimed at LGBT+ Texans, the state Senate committee on Thursday also advanced legislation to prohibit trans women from competing in college sports teams that align with their gender.
State lawmakers across the US this year have introduced more than 400 bills identified by the Human Rights Campaign as harmful to LGBT+ Americans. At least 175 measures would specifically restrict the rights of transgender people, the highest number of bills targeting transgender people in a single year to date, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
Dozens of bills are aimed at prohibiting trans youth from accessing medically supported gender-affirming healthcare, and state lawmakers have introduced more so-called “bathroom bills” this year than in any other year.
The onslaught of legislation and volatile political debate surrounding the bills have negatively impacted the mental health of an overwhelming majority of young trans and nonbinary people, according to recent polling from The Trevor Project and Morning Consult.
A separate survey from The Trevor Project found that 45 per cent of trans and nonbinary youth have seriously considered attempting suicide over the last year.