Austin City Council prompts pushback from Paxton over 'transgender protection resolution'

Tamir Kalifa/Getty Images
Tamir Kalifa/Getty Images

The Austin City Council in Texas voted 10-1 last Thursday to approve a resolution that one councilmember opposed out of concern it would effectively mandate city authorities to disobey the state Legislature's recent Senate Bill 14 passed last year.

The city council's measure also prompted pushback from Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton.

The resolution, which was also described as a "transgender protection resolution" by its lead sponsor Councilmember José "Chito" Vela, directs the municipal government not to provide municipal staff, funds or resources to "investigate, criminally prosecute, or impose administrative penalties upon […]" anyone pursuing trans-affirming care.

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The measure further directs the Austin Police Department to make enforcement of SB 14 their lowest priority.

"Trans people deserve the right to self-determination," Vela said shortly before the resolution was passed last week. "Our state has forced them and their medical providers into hiding and that is wrong, Austin should not be a party to that any more than we legally have to be."

Austin is the first city in the state to pass such a resolution against SB 14, which passed last June.

The bill, which went into effect Sept. 1, prohibits gender medicalization such as puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and elective cosmetic surgeries such as double mastectomies for girls who identify as boys. It also forbids the use of state funds for such procedures in children.

Austin City Councilmember Mackenzie Kelly, the only member affiliated with the Republican Party on the officially nonpartisan city council, was the only holdout against the resolution, as noted by Courthouse News. Kelly was concerned that the resolution was effectively suggesting that municipal personnel should disregard state law.

"To me, this resolution sends an explicit yet confusing message to our law enforcement officers to act in conflict with state law," Kelly said. "As a home rule city, Austin does indeed have a significant degree of autonomy, however, as a political subdivision of the state of Texas our autonomy should not be construed as a license to continually undermine state law."

Ken Paxton, the state's Republican attorney general, fired off a statement last Thursday rebuking Austin's city government, reminding them that they are under state authority when it comes to protecting children from trans procedures.

Claiming that it seemingly directs city authorities not to comply with the state's prohibition of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and trans surgeries for children, Paxton said the resolution is "riddled with problems." He also said it is predicated on the "falsehood" that such treatments have been "proven to be evidence-based, medically necessary, and lifesaving."

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, above, blasted Austin's resolution and noted that the Texas State Legislature banned transgender treatments for minors after concluding they were dangerous.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, above, blasted Austin's resolution and noted that the Texas State Legislature banned transgender treatments for minors after concluding they were dangerous.

Citing the growing body of medical research rejecting such claims, Paxton noted that the Texas Legislature banned gender medicalization for minors after concluding they were dangerous, and the resolution effectively has no power.

"Further, the resolution is no more than an empty political statement," Paxton continued. "Each clause directing the City Manager to defy SB 14 is prefaced with the nonsensical qualification, 'except to the extent required by law.' In other words, the Austin City Council would order the City Manager and city employees to follow the law while pretending to say the exact opposite."

"If the City of Austin refuses to follow the law and protect children, my office will consider every possible response to ensure compliance," Paxton added. "Texas municipalities do not have the authority to pick and choose which state laws they will or will not abide by. The people of Texas have spoken, and Austin City Council must listen."

Austin Mayor Kirk Watson, who is affiliated with the Democratic Party and once served in the Texas Senate, voted for the resolution and issued a statement last week pushing back against Paxton's assertion that the city is defying state law, according to KXAN.

"Paxton is accusing the City of Austin of refusing to follow state law while simultaneously dismissing the resolution as an 'empty political statement,'" Watson said. "The Austin City Council isn't flouting state law. We’re doing what the state and our residents want us to do – prioritizing public safety and basic needs of all Austinites. This is about priorities."

Watson went on to note that he and the rest of city council want Austin's "limited city resources" to go to 911 calls and other crucial services "rather than targeting transgender individuals seeking healthcare."

"The resolution passed by the Austin City Council is a statement — that we care about all Austinites and want to use our limited City resources to serve and protect all our neighbors," Watson added.

The Christian Post has reached out to the city of Austin for further comment, and will update this story they provide one.

Jon Brown is a reporter for The Christian Post. Send news tips to

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