Last week in Texas, Governor Greg Abbott sent an alarming letter to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). Abbot – with the support of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton – ordered the DFPS to consider various gender-affirming medical procedures for transgender children as “abusive.” If fully implemented, all licensed health providers, teachers, and any other mandated reporters in Texas would be legally required to report the caregivers of transgender children as potential child abusers if they seek various gender-affirming medical procedures for their children. Mandated reporters who do not report these parents potentially face criminal penalties and the loss of their careers. These chilling investigations have already started.
Ignoring Governor Abbott’s blatant hypocrisy in championing individual rights in some medical decisions while attempting to selectively outlaw other private medical decisions which happen to be in opposition to his party’s political platform, there is still a problem with classifying gender-affirming medical care as abusive: it is untrue.
The wellness benefits of gender-affirming medical and psychological care have been confirmed by multiple, major scientific groups such as:
- American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- American Medical Association
- American Psychiatric Association
- American Psychological Association
The consensus is that gender-affirming care reduces suicide rates, reduces the risks of other mental health diagnoses, and increases overall life satisfaction in transgender individuals. Gender-affirming care is the recommended approach for gender dysphoria, and so many medical and scientific groups agree on this that it is impractical to list them all. Many of the above organizations have already issued statements in opposition to Gov. Abbott’s order, as have the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, the National Association of Social Workers’ Texas Chapter, and the Texas Nurses Association.
Beyond the inherent vulnerability of childhood, transgender individuals (especially those of multiple marginalized identities) continue to face discrimination and even physical harm to a staggering degree. Additionally, parents who advocate for their transgender children frequently face obstacles and discrimination. The order from Gov. Abbott to DFPS attempts to criminalize the courageous act of children growing up in a manner consistent with their identity, and categorizing these procedures “child abuse” flies in the face of established scientific consensus and puts the lives and wellbeing of vulnerable children at risk.
Thankfully, the American Civil Liberties Union is opposing these investigations in court, and five district attorneys in populous Texas counties indicated that they will refuse to prosecute these cases. That still leaves many outside of those counties terrified and confused. Two of Take This’ consultants in Texas (Brian Kunde, LCSW and Amanda Jones-Rincon, MA) created a resource folder for caregivers which includes a two-page handout with various Austin-area community resources, information from several legal groups and transgender activist groups, and suggested strategies to create a Safe Folder which validates a child’s gender identity in the face of possible investigations.There is also a downloadable letter template for licensed healthcare providers to use to contribute to individuals’ Safe Folders. Additionally, Mr. Kunde – in his role with the LGBTQIA+ advocacy nonprofit GaymerX – curated a list of broader, Texas-based resources which include supports for transgender youth, legal resources, and guidance for helping professionals.
Please let Gov. Abbott know that the lives of transgender children matter and you oppose this order, especially if you live in Texas! His office contact information can be found here.