Texas Governor Greg Abbott is calling for an investigation by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) on parents who support their Trans children and allow them to receive gender-affirming medical care. The governor claims that allowing minors to access such medical care, even if prescribed by doctors, could be considered as ‘child abuse’ and he has encouraged citizens to report parents who permit it.
This call was part of a letter that Abbott sent to the DFPS on Tuesday 22, in which he wrote: “I hereby direct your agency to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation of any reported instances of these abusive procedures in the State of Texas”.
The letter is viewed by many as an attempt to extend Republican efforts to prohibit Trans children from accessing gender-affirming medical care. Those efforts started last year when the Texas legislature introduced and then failed to pass a bill that would have legally declared parents who allow their children to access hormone therapy and puberty blockers to be child abusers.
A brief civics lesson (esp for @KenPaxtonTX): State AG's don't DECLARE laws. They UPHOLD them. The #txlege tried making "care for a trans child = child abuse" a law, but failed. Therefore, caring for trans kids is NOT illegal, and Ken Paxton can fuck off. https://t.co/WJ4pB3ZYlD
— Amber Briggle (she/her) (@mrsbriggle) February 22, 2022
The governor cited Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s words issued in a non-binding opinion earlier in the week, which stated that such medical care for Trans minors “can legally constitute child abuse”. Paxton also compared gender-affirming care to the forced sterilisation of Black women, talking about a conspiracy between parents and doctors to take away their kids’ “constitutional right to procreate”.
An opinion by the Attorney General is an interpretation of existing legislation which, while it cannot change the law itself, can affect the way it is interpreted. It thus remains unclear whether Abbott and Paxton can make any state agency investigate Trans kids’ parents for child abuse without passing legislation.
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According to Brian Klosterboer, a staff attorney at the ACLU of Texas, “the law is clear that parents, guardians, and doctors can provide Transgender youth with treatment in accordance with prevailing standards of care. Any parent or guardian who loves and supports their child and is taking them to a licensed health care provider is not engaging in child abuse.”
Adri Pèrez, policy and advocacy strategist for LGBTQ equality at the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, also stated that “there’s no court in Texas or the entire country that has ever found that gender-affirming care can constitute child abuse”.
A recent study published in Boston found that 90% of people who wanted puberty blockers but did not get them reported having suicidal thoughts as adults, showing that preventing Trans children from accessing such medical care is harmful to their well-being.
This is an absolute nightmare. But supporting your kid is NOT child abuse and families will be protected and defended as best we can and if we need to help you get out of Texas we will do that too. I am sorry this is the horrible world we live in. pic.twitter.com/OBPffc38Y1
— Chase Strangio (@chasestrangio) February 22, 2022
This news comes at the same time as the discussion on an amendment to the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill in another US state, Florida, that would call for teachers to ‘out’ LGBTQ+ students to their parents. Unlike the Texas debate on Trans healthcare, this bill aims to give parents more control over their children’s lives, but still at the expense of LGBTQ+ youth.
Meanwhile, the Supreme court is supposed to hear a case against the state of Colorado that could overturn anti-discrimination laws and suspend protections for LGBTQ+ people. The lawsuit has been launched by a Christian web designer in Colorado who wants to be able to refuse making websites for same-sex couples’ weddings. Given that nine of the current Supreme Court justices are conservative, some fear that this could be the case they use to rule against LGBTQ+ rights and equality.
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