In Greg Abbott's latest attack on trans youth, the Texas governor directed state health agencies to treat gender-affirming care for trans minors as "child abuse," criminalizing standard medical care such as puberty-suppressing drugs and hormones and ordering the investigation of families whose children are transitioning. Just a few months ago, in October, Abbott signed Texas's first statewide anti-trans bill banning trans girls from playing women's sports at school.
In a letter to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services on Tuesday, the governor specified that licensed professionals such as doctors, nurses, and teachers would also face criminal penalties if they failed to report transitioning youth. These dangerous statements were made following a legal opinion by Attorney General Ken Paxton stating gender-affirming care constitutes child abuse under existing Texas state law.
Gender-affirming treatments are not only a standard of medical care and a health decision made between a child, their guardians, and healthcare professional, but are also crucial for trans youth. "It is so important because this population is at such a high risk of mental health disparities," Terrance D. Weeden, DO, told POPSUGAR last year. "So there's an increased risk of depression, an increased risk of suicide, and an increased risk of anxiety."
While it's unclear if and how Abbott's order will be enforced as it's based on legal opinion, it certainly sparks fear and alarm among trans youth and their families and encourages continued attacks against an already-vulnerable group. This recent directive joins a slew of politically motivated anti-trans bills and attacks on trans people in Texas and across the nation. If you're looking for ways to fight Texas's order and provide support to trans youth in Texas, keep reading for how to help.
Donate to legal and advocacy groups dedicated to helping trans youth.
Start by donating to and learning from relevant organizations working to support trans youth on a local and federal level. If you're able, set up monthly donations to support the community beyond this week or this month. Additionally, consider volunteering by way of lobbying, fundraising, providing testimony, helping to facilitate trainings, and more. Here's a list of resources to help you get started.
- The largest trans-led, trans-focused organization in Texas, Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT) uses donations to create sustainable accessibility to hearings, support individuals and groups on the ground, and offset costs of facilitating workshops.
- TxTransKids.org is a resource for trans youth in Texas, fighting for their rights in courts, legislature, local governments, and schools. While they don't accept donations, you can become an advocate with the organization to help defend the rights of all trans people in Texas, particularly kids.
- Equality Texas is a political advocacy organization that works to eliminate all discrimination targeting the LGBTQ+ community.
- Lambda Legal is a legal organization that fights cases that protect and advance the rights of LGBTQ+ people and those with HIV; leads public education campaigns; and advocates for public policy at the local, state, and federal levels to support LGBTQ+ people.
- TransYouth Family Allies provides resources and guidance for parents, families, and all allies of trans youth.
- Allgo is an Austin-based organization dedicated to helping queer people of color by building, educating, and mobilizing communities.
- Trans Pride Initiative advocates for trans rights in education, healthcare, housing, and employment.
Voice your opinion to Texas officials.
Get in touch with the Texas governor's office as well as the attorney general to voice your concerns and issues. You can find their contact information here. Additionally, urge your leaders at the local level to speak out against these extreme directives.
Don't stop at Texas.
While Abbott's recent order could affect the lives of trans youth in Texas, several other states like Alabama, Idaho, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Arizona are also working to pass similar anti-trans bills to restrict access to gender-affirming healthcare, limit participating in sports, and censor messaging in schools about LGBTQ+ identities. Make sure you're also fighting these bills to support trans youth nationwide by reaching out to legislators in affected states, following and donating to local organizations on social media, and calling on local businesses and elected representatives to speak up.
Help shift the national conversation.
Though many have condemned the governor's recent attacks against trans youth, the LGBTQ+ community and trans youth in particular have faced overwhelming discrimination these past few years. It's important to continue to use your voice to speak up and raise awareness for the community. Amplify your support on social media, engage in tough conversations with your family and friends, and work toward changing the discussion around trans children and teens.