Support transgender, non-binary, and intersex youth in Texas
Texas is one of the worst places in the United States to be a transgender person right now. As of February of this year, Governor Greg Abbott called on state agencies to investigate any gender-affirming care as “child abuse” and called upon medical professionals, teachers, and anyone from the public to report children who have received this type of care, an estimated 13,700 young people. While his nonbinding opinion is not final, we’ve seen how fast these declarations can turn into legislation. What’s happening with criminalizing gender-affirming care for youth is similar to what we saw just six months ago when Abbott launched an attack against pregnant people and banned abortions after 8 weeks, the shortest time window of any US state.
It’s sickening that these politicians are playing with real people’s lives and futures in order for their own gains to receive votes and support from their states. This isn’t about gender or transness or even the right to live, these legislations are about old, mostly white men, who want to maintain the status quo because anything other than that forces them to investigate their own identity and power.
On the ground, medical providers and healthcare professionals are scrambling to continue providing gender-affirming care for youth. In Texas, most of this care consists of prescribing puberty blockers and socially transitioning, and a small portion of people undergo surgical procedures.
Another name for gender-affirming care is life-affirming care. Studies show that when gender-affirming care is provided to transgender, intersex, and non-binary youth rates of mental illness and suicide significantly decrease. However, many of the clinicians and nurses currently working in Texas do not have guidance from their respective governing boards about what they are required to do or not do in the midst of these politically-motivated changes. This lack of direction is endangering the lives and health of thousands of young people in Texas.
“Some pharmacies are refusing to fill prescriptions and making it harder for patients to receive their medications,” said WH, a Texas-based nurse practitioner.
Many are making their voice heard by providing testaments stating gender-affirming care is life saving care and should not be categorized as child abuse. On Friday, March 11, Judge Amy Clark Meachum of Texas’ 201st district court ruled that Abbott’s directive was unconstitutional and halted all current investigations of parents. But some have already been charged. One such case is the Briggle parents and their transgender teenage son.
In February, Amy Briggle received a phone call from Child Protective Services of allegations of child abuse against their son. “When we were notified of the allegations, it was as if the wind had been knocked out of us. We wanted to scream and cry, but we had no air,” wrote Amy in her blog. Her family is one of nine cases being investigated against transgender kids and their parents, and while Amy and her family are committed to staying and fighting, not everyone can afford that same luxury.
Families, youth, and LGBTQ+ people are about to exit en masse from states like Texas and Florida. I can’t help but note that this evacuation isn’t isolated to domestic soil. As you are well aware, people around the world are leaving their jobs, homes, and countries. We are witnessing a global exodus.
As of late February, more than 2.6 million Ukrainians have fled their country and crossed the borders of Poland, Hungary, and even traversed the Atlantic Sea to get to the United States, simply to survive. Globally, we’re still in the middle of a seemingly never-ending pandemic that has raged through the workforce, leaving millions unemployed and even more dissatisfied with structural working conditions that have been accepted and internalized without question. Nearly 4.5 million Americans left their jobs by the end of 2021, the highest number on record, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The common thread in all of this is a powerful conservative entity seeking to exert control over communities who are seeking a new way of life that would break down existing systems and schools of thought. Texas Governor Greg Abbott calling gender-affirming care “child abuse” is a form of modern-day colonialism that endangers not only those who live in the state now but all the future generations who will come after. Make no mistake, this political move, along with last year’s ban on abortions after eight weeks, is a concerted attack in eradicating those who don’t fall into the governor’s vision of a conservative, Christian, and white state.
Because of the legislation in Texas, many parents are having to look outside the state in order to provide their children with the gender-affirming care they need. Even then, patients are having to wait over three months due to waiting lists in those states, and these are people who have been in care for years.
“I personally know parents who are starting to think about relocation just to make sure their family is safe and that care can be provided to their kids,” said WH, a Texas-based clinician.
For those who are looking to support transgender, non-binary, and intersex youth in Texas, there are a few options. If you want to sign a petition to support trans kids and their parents in Texas, check out this one from the Texas Freedom Network. Txtranskids.org has resources for transgender kids living in the state of Texas, including mental health resources, information about Child Protective Services and charges being targeted at you and your family, and activist resources, including texting “Texas” to 472-472 to call Greg Abbott and remind him that gender-affirming care is life-saving care. The Texas Transgender Resource Guide is an online library of resources for those living in Texas.
When it comes to consuming content, Instagram is the platform of choice. Chase Strangio is an ACLU lawyer and transgender activist who passionately fights for more rights for the community. He’ll often post status updates on the current political landscape and screenshots from Twitter that help keep us up to date on everything going on in LGBTQ+ legislation. Chris Mosier, Olympic athlete and transgender activist, is another person to follow for his actionable activism, encouraging people to call on their politicians to reject these transphobic laws.
It sometimes feels like the fight never stops. But if there’s one thing the transgender community is known for it’s resilience. We’ll get through this moment just like we survived every other attack to erase us and those who came before.