In yet another horrific blow to transgender and gender-expansive youth as well as reproductive and sexual health care, Texas Governor Greg Abbott sent a letter directing the Department of Family and Protective Services on Tuesday to “investigate” any instances of children or youth receiving gender-affirming care as “child abuse.” On Monday, state Attorney General Ken Paxton published a non-binding opinion also expressing his belief that gender-affirming care is child abuse.
Let us be clear: gender-affirming care is the antithesis of child abuse. It is vital, medically necessary, and life-saving for transgender and gender-expansive youth.
Let us be clear: gender-affirming care is the antithesis of child abuse. It is vital, medically necessary, and life-saving for transgender and gender-expansive youth. Ample evidence confirms that providing young people with gender-affirming care is clinically sound and an effective treatment for symptoms of gender dysphoria. This health care service for transgender and gender-expansive youth is backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and other leading health experts. Gender dysphoria can cause severe mental distress, anxiety, and depression. We feel compelled to point out that these symptoms are exacerbated by the false, dangerous narratives like ones Governor Abbott and AG Paxton are projecting on young people in Texas.
Neither the Governor’s letter nor the Attorney General’s opinion are legally binding or rooted in evidence. They cannot change Texas law or deprive youth in Texas of their constitutional rights to necessary health care. Moreover, no court in Texas or anywhere nationwide has ever found that this essential health care is child abuse. We are deeply aware that even without legal effect, these actions further stigmatize and give the appearance of criminalizing gender-affirming care. The state’s actions will have a significant chilling effect on access to and utilization of gender-affirming care.
These disgraceful actions arrive amid increasing attempts across several states to ban or severely limit access to gender-affirming care for young people. The letter and order also land just shy of six months after abortion access was vastly impeded in Texas when S.B. 8, a six-week abortion ban, went into effect, and just a few months before the Supreme Court will decide Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a direct challenge to the constitutional right to abortion established almost 50 years ago in Roe v. Wade. These discriminatory attacks on sexual and reproductive health care access, health equity, reproductive and sexual freedom, and gender justice are interconnected. They share common roots in cisheteropatriarchy, white supremacy, colonialism, reproductive control, and intersecting systems of oppression. And they will not stop with gender-affirming care or abortions.
NHeLP stands in solidarity with transgender and gender-expansive young people and affirming parents, families – given and chosen, health care providers, teachers, among others in Texas. Young people in Texas have the right to access the timely and affirming health care services they need to live authentic, liberated, healthy lives. Transgender and gender-expansive people have always existed and are everywhere, including at NHeLP. They are loved. NHeLP will continue to insist on transgender and gender-expansive people’s humanity, alongside trans youth in Texas and across the United States. We will continue to advocate to safeguard and strengthen access to gender-affirming care for transgender and gender-expansive young people around the country. We all must continue to fight for a future where gender justice, health equity, and reproductive and sexual freedom are realized for all.