A transphobic setback across Texas

Supporting transgender youth is the new child abuse, according to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Parents who seek gender-affirming care for their transgender children are now being investigated as a result of Abbott’s order on Feb. 22. As of this year, 11 cases have been opened, eight of which were then closed. However, if Abbott isn’t voted out of office soon, more investigations will open and Texas can essentially say goodbye to transgender rights. As voters, we need to nip transphobia in the bud before transgender rights are gone for good.

Many people have a problem with these investigations, including employees of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) and Child Protective Services (CPS). In less than a year, over 2,000 employees have left the agency because they don’t agree with the investigations.

Some of those who haven’t left sent anonymous messages to The Dallas Morning News stating that DFPS told employees to avoid written communication about the investigations. They don’t want to cause more controversy, especially this close to the Texas gubernatorial election, because these investigations don’t look good on Abbott’s behalf. By keeping this information from the public, DFPS is shielding the truth that professionals trained to recognize and respond to signs of abuse don’t consider gender-affirming care to be abusive. There should be more backlash and awareness brought to the public’s attention about the investigations. These investigations will result in transgender children getting outed and their mental health going into a steep decline.

In an article published by NBC Bay Area, the parent of a transgender child, Megan, revealed that “really it’s this child’s happiness. I would rather have a transgender daughter than a dead son,” referencing the high suicide statistic of transgender youth. Additionally, these investigations significantly take away from the cases of actual child abuse. Instead of Abbott doubling down on his transphobia, he should consider looking into cases of neglect, physical abuse and sexual abuse. If he genuinely cared about the well-being of transgender children, he’d recognize these high suicide rates and would take the appropriate steps to bring them down.

Some are still reluctant to see the problems with these investigations and ask “aren’t they too young to receive gender-affirming care?” However, finding out a child is transgender early in their life is a good thing. It allows these kids to take hormonal therapy such as puberty blockers. This allows for the delay in sexual maturity of children for a period of up to three years so they don’t fully transition into their assigned sex which eases symptoms of dysphoria. Delaying puberty gives children time to understand their gender identity before they decide on body-altering surgeries. Additionally, it’s rare for transgender teenagers to get body-altering surgeries and most occur in adulthood.

Regardless, hormone therapy and surgeries require an informed decision from the child, parent and even, in some cases, a therapist. Furthermore, we can come to the conclusion that supporting your trans kids and their wish to make their outer appearance align with their gender identity is not child abuse. Beto O’Rourke responded to the DFPS investigations in a tweet.

“Foster kids have been forced to sleep on the floor in Abbott’s CPS system where harm to children is ‘overlooked, ignored or forgotten.’ Texas leads the nation in uninsured kids. Now [Greg Abbott] is cruelly and obsessively bullying children. Texas kids deserve so much better,” Beto said.

Texas should encourage this progressivist message from Beto instead of the transphobic values that Abbott is preaching. The solution to these investigations is to vote Abbott out. Other ways to support transgender children and their parents include being attentive toward their mental health. Additionally, don’t out someone. So, continue to use their birth name if they ask you to. Another way to provide support is to engage in The Safety Pin Project. Safety pins are a symbol of solidarity. By wearing a safety pin someplace visible, people know who’s safe to confide in. Remember when voting: don’t be a goof, protect trans youth.