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The Attack on Trans Youth Isn’t Just a Texas Issue

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5 min read

Thinx - Periodical - The Attack on Trans Youth Isn’t Just a Texas Issue

by Meg Loughman | March 17, 2022

The statewide attack on trans youth across the nation must end now. We at Thinx stand with all LGBTQIA+ youth, as well as their parents and healthcare providers, in the fight against deeply harmful anti-trans legislation — in Texas and everywhere. Gender-affirming care is not “child abuse,” as Texas Governor Greg Abbott has claimed. It is life-saving healthcare for transgender, non-binary, intersex, and genderqueer youth — and it should be treated as such. 

what’s happening in Texas?

In late February, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton issued statements declaring that gender-affirming healthcare now constitutes child abuse under Texas law — meaning that any parents or healthcare providers involved in such procedures could be investigated and criminalized for helping trans youth access life-saving, medically-necessary care.

This horrific legislation is the unfortunate reality for trans and gender non-conforming youth and their families living in Texas. In the weeks since, the ACLU has announced that they are suing the state of Texas, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued a statement in support of trans youth and their parents, and a group of more than 60 major businesses & corporations has come together to write Gov. Abbott a letter condemning this discriminatory law and calling on lawmakers to “abandon anti-LGBTQ efforts” immediately.

However, this isn’t just a Texas issue. Dozens of other states are attempting  to advance grim, dehumanizing legislation to expand the definition of child abuse to include gender-affirming care, ban trans students from playing school sports or using school bathrooms, and more.

what’s happening in the rest of the country?

Last year, Arkansas became the first state to pass a ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth, in what the ACLU’s Chase Strangio called “the single most extreme anti-trans law to ever pass through a state legislature.” While that ban was blocked by a federal judge in the summer of 2021, it has become clear in the months since that some state legislatures — like those in Alabama and Tennessee — are continuing to find ways to advance restrictions on access to gender-affirming care for minors.

Unfortunately, these cruel measures against trans youth don’t just focus on medical care. Just last week, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves passed a law to ban transgender students from participating in school sports — making it “the first piece of anti-LGBTQ or specifically anti-transgender legislation this year to become law.” Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Texas, and North Carolina, to name a few, have also been advancing bills targeting trans youth and their ability to use school bathrooms that align with their gender identity.

These sweeping moves to roll back trans rights are terrifying, to say the least. In Florida, the “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bill (HB 1557) was recently passed by the state Senate, in a drastic move towards the erasure of LGBTQ+ visibility in schools. Not only do such bills further stigmatize and dehumanize trans and LGBTQ+ youth — they also continue to isolate these already-vulnerable and at-risk populations.

resources for trans & LGBTQ+ youth and families

Despite the recent surge of hateful anti-trans legislation in the U.S., the reality is that gender-affirming care saves lives. Research has shown that having access to “medical and psychosocial health care designed to affirm individuals' gender identities… greatly improves the mental health and overall well-being of gender diverse, transgender, and non-binary (TGNB) children and adolescents.”

Further, it is widely known (and well-documented) that trans, non-binary, and LGBTQ+ youth experience higher rates of suicidal ideation than their cisgender, non-LGBTQ+ peers. A 2021 survey from the Trevor Project found that “42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth” — a harrowing fact that only emphasizes the dire need for legislation (and rhetoric) that prioritizes the mental health, physical health, and livelihoods of trans and LGBTQ+ youth. As partisan legislators continue to use trans youth as political pawns, we must remember that, in the words of the ACLU’s Chase Strangio: “The end result won’t be that fewer kids grow up to be trans, it will be that fewer kids grow up.”

We need to continue to create safe communities for trans, non-binary, and LGBTQ+ youth, period. While there are already young people in Texas and across the nation speaking up in opposition to recent abusive anti-trans legislation, it is imperative that we all continue to speak up and take a stance against hate.

Below is a list of resources for youth, parents, and advocates in Texas (and beyond) seeking resources, legal assistance, and more. To access The Trevor Project's 24/7, toll-free LGBTQ+ suicide and crisis intervention hotline, call 1-866-488-7386, or text 'START' to 678-678.

  1. TxTransKids.org — A hub for resources and legal assistance in partnership with ACLU Texas, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT), and more

  2. Trans Lifeline — A peer support and crisis hotline for trans people

  3. Allgo — A Texas-based nonprofit organization fostering community amongst queer people of color

  4. Texas Transgender Alliance Resource Guide — An interactive map showing Texas-based resources for mental health, gender-affirming care, sexual wellness, housing, and more

  5. Organización Latina de Trans en Texas — A Texas-based nonprofit organization by and for trans-Latinx folks

  6. Black Trans Texas Connection — A Texas-based grassroots org offering support and programming for Black trans women and femmes

by Meg Loughman

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