Texas politicians continue to weigh in on health issues that literally have nothing to do with them. Recently, following an advisory written by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Governor Greg Abbott sent a letter to the Department of Family and Protective Services calling on them to investigate any reports of minors receiving gender-affirming medical care. The directive also asks licensed professionals and the general public to report parents of transgender children who help their children access services. Much like the abortion bill that passed last year, Texas Republicans are involving other people in situations that don’t directly impact their lives.
According to the ACLU, Abbott’s letter has no legal value and cannot change existing laws or take away the rights of Texas families. Based on decades of research, several medical associations agree that gender-affirming care is medically necessary for transgender youth. These situations should be handled between parents, their children and their caregivers.
Once again, the Conservatives are not following evidence-based research and want to dictate orders based on what they think is right or wrong. For my life, I don’t understand what a small government this is. I don’t understand how this protects children. And I don’t understand how it’s for anything other than self-serving political gain. Greg Abbott doesn’t care about these kids or minimizing child abuse. He cares about his re-election and plays with a transphobic base that hides behind his fanaticism with the false use of God.
Governor, if you think abuse is so wrong, where do you stand when these children become adults and face the barriers you allow to exist. When they are making their own choices legally and still living their authentic lives as transgender adults, where are you to protect them from abuse? Where are you to ensure access to housing, employment, health care, and physical and psychological safety. Transgender people regularly face violence and discrimination.
In 2019, Texas had the highest murder rate of transgender people in the country. Most of them are black and most are women. Isn’t that an abuse? But that seems to be the kind of abuse that suits him. The kind of abuse it’s okay to keep quiet about. The kind of abuse that maintains the status quo. He defends a white supremacist, patriarchal and anti-LGBTQ society. He rejects anyone different and makes people feel uncomfortable. Well, you know what makes me uncomfortable. The fact that transgender youth report significantly increased rates of depression, suicidality, and victimization compared to their cisgender peers.
The Human Rights Campaign reported in 2020 that 43% of transgender youth have experienced bullying on school grounds, compared to 18% of cisgender youth, and 29% of transgender youth have attempted suicide, compared to 7% cisgender youth. It has also been reported that providing support to transgender children makes a significant difference. Research shows that transgender youth with supportive families have a 52% decrease in suicidal thoughts, a 46% decrease in suicide attempts, and a significant increase in self-esteem and overall health. But tell me again how parents abuse their children.
The reality is that Greg Abbott represents a society that lives in judgment and fear instead of compassion and understanding. He signals to the parents to reject their children. Choose rejection instead of affirmation. Choosing hate instead of love. How does this minimize abuse? Only love and affirmation can do that.
If you are a young transgender, know that there are people who fight for you every day. If you are the parent of a young transgender, know that your affirmation is everything for your child. You don’t abuse them, you love them unconditionally. And in these situations, love and affirmation save lives.
Ashley Innes is a writer and HIV advocate. Follow her on Twitter @Ash_Innes.