I live in Austin, Texas. It is not a perfect city. We have a long, long, shameful history with segregation. But it is known as a bastion of liberalism in a red state. In reality, all the major cities in Texas are majority liberal (but the Texas leadership doesn’t want you to know that). Texas’ recent history includes passing laws to limit voting by mail, passing a law to keep trans kids from playing sports, and banning abortion at six weeks and paying a bounty to turn in healthcare providers who don’t comply. And now, a nonbinding but super transphobic proclamation by our ghoulish governor encouraging people to flood our already critically overloaded child protective services with false claims of abuse for gender non-conforming kids’ parents, doctors, teachers, and therapists.

It’s easy to feel protected from all this madness in Austin. Especially if you are white. We have a crap record with police violence and discrimination, so this is only going to make it worse for already vulnerable queer kids and their families. But this also hits really close to home. If my kid’s teachers start to feel uncomfortable or unsafe using their pronouns, my kid will get misgendered a lot more. If their doctor feels that way, we may not get the right medical advice. We may not be able to find them a gender-affirming therapist if they become depressed because they live in a state that is hostile to their mental and physical well-being. And my kid is a less vulnerable (nonbinary), highly-privileged case. Travis County (in which Austin resides) has already stated it will not investigate these false claims of abuse. But what if we travel? Am I going to get ratted out to CPS for my gender non-conforming kid if I leave Austin? And how much worse is this for families far more vulnerable than mine? A whole hell of a lot worse:

In Travis County, Black children account for 7 percent of the child population but a stunning 27 percent of removals, according to the same state data. Further, we found in our maternal health policy research that CPS’ disproportionate removal of kids from Black families is one reason that many Central Texas moms are scared of asking for help for mental health and substance use when they need it. In Dallas and Harris counties, Black children make up 21 percent and 17 percent of the child population, respectively, but 48 percent of removals in each county. — Texans Care for Children

This is unconscionable.

I am so, so tired of the Texas government sacrificing its citizens on the altar of individual political aspirations. And I am even more tired of their dog-whistle politics making vulnerable kids more vulnerable. All scientific evidence (and major scientific organizations) agrees that gender-affirming care saves lives while forcing a child to suppress their gender identity causes major mental health issues, including a significantly increased rate of suicide. But since Abbot doesn’t care about the 85k+ death toll from unchecked COVID in Texas, it is unlikely that he cares about the kids who will kill themselves because he just made an already hostile state even worse for them. This will affect us all.

Even if you think you don’t know any gender-nonconforming people, you do. You cannot make a queer kid straight or cisgender, you can only make them hate themselves for who they are. This is not a nature vs. nurture debate — it’s a do you want your kid to live to grow up or not debate. That is what you are really deciding if you think you can choose your kid’s sexuality or gender for them. Support gender-nonconforming kids in every way possible. Full stop.

And if you are like me, you’re white, straight, cis-gendered, or some other combo that means that you can shield yourself and your kids from this insanity, please do something to help those that can’t.

Lambda Legal Texas
ACLU Texas
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