The Battle Between Texas and Transgender Children

Image Credit Jay Janner

There is a national fight for the rights of LGBTQIA+ youth happening currently. Starting back in August 6th of 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbott asked the Texas Department of Family and Protective Service to explicitly state that gender reassignment surgery on a minor would be considered child abuse, which can be read here. This policy threatens legal action against medical facilities and the guardians of transgender youth, however it is a common medical practice for transgender individuals under 18 to only be put on puberty blockers and not receive gender-affirming surgeries until they are adults. These are the same puberty blockers used to treat cisgender kids who either start puberty too early or their puberty progresses too fast. To learn more about medical care for transgender youth, refer to this article by the Texas Tribune

Greg Abbott’s letter fuels transphobic views by referring to treatment as ‘genital mutilation,’ which puts forced sterilization in the same category of surgeries that consenting transgender adults seek. These surgeries include hysterectomy, metoidioplasty, phalloplasty, or vaginoplasty and are not performed on those under 18. It leads people to believe that gender affirming treatment for transgender minors includes these surgeries, which is demonstrably untrue. Putting all gender affirming treatments under one label ignores the incomparable situation of a child being put on puberty blockers for their wellbeing to a procedure only practiced by adults.

According to the Trevor Project, a nonprofit suicide prevention resource for LGBT+ youth, in 2021 72% of LGBTQ youth have symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder within the past two weeks of the study, and more than 3 in 4 identified as transgender or nonbinary. 62% of the surveyed LGBTQ youth had symptoms of major depressive disorder in those past two weeks, and from that 62%, more than 2 in 3 identify with a transgender label. More than half of transgender or nonbinary youth had seriously considered taking their life within the past year, while those who live in a supportive environment were half as likely.

In Attorney General Ken Paxton’s recent correspondence with republican Texas House of Representatives member, Matt Krause, it is clear he is more concerned with procreation than the health and safety of vulnerable minors. They argue that children cannot consent to have their right to procreate taken away, and even compare it to “Munchausen by proxy”. Munchausen by proxy, or Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another, is the idea that parental figures will project a fictitious disease onto their child and force unnecessary medical procedures on them. What they do not seem to understand is that puberty blockers do not affect fertility. This correspondence can be found here for more details, taking place on February 18th and February 22nd of this year, as well as another letter from Gov. Greg Abbott to Commissioner Jamie Masters of DFPS. 

Paxton’s nonbinding opinion, No. KP-0401, was followed by a press release on February 21st, 2022 which can be read on his website. It is his interpretation that gender reassignment surgeries, as well as drugs such as puberty blockers, testosterone, and estrogen should be considered child abuse by the definitions of chapter 261 of the Texas Family Code. This clarifies they are not only seeking to prevent surgeries but the previously mentioned puberty blockers. 

As of Friday, March 11th, there is a temporary injunction on investigations into the families of Texas transgender youth. This was done by District Judge Amy Clark Meachum in Travis County, who had halted the investigation on the family of a 16-year-old transgender girl the week before. The next step is a pending trial on the matter in July. 

SOU’s Equity Coordinator for Gender and Sexuality Justice offers this support to affected SOU students:

“In light of the abhorrent transphobic legislation being passed in so called Texas, Idaho, and many other states, we want to affirm that gender affirming medical care for youth and trans folks of all ages is suicide prevention! Resistance to state sanctioned violence is a critical part of supporting trans youth, especially QTBIPOC youth who face the highest amount of this violence. Trans futures are radiant and deserve safety, justice and deep radical care. We want trans students to know there are many resources available to you through the GSJ area (everything from access to free gender affirming products like binders or breast slips or voice therapy, HRT support, confidential advocacy, to support groups like Queer & Trans talks or the QTBIPOC Liberation Space). We are also here for you to come & talk through any feelings, ideas or needs you may have!”

Updates involving this new Texas policy will appear in The Siskiyou as the story develops.

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