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The state of our union for transgender youth is very dangerous. Today, as parents who care about the well-being of all children — transgender, non-binary and cisgender — we are raising our voices in unity against extremist, discriminatory actions by lawmakers putting transgender children in harm’s way.
Last week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott shocked the country when he took the unprecedented step of directing Texas’s Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate age-appropriate, medically necessary, gender-affirming healthcare for transgender adolescents and teens — the same best-practice care supported by every major medical organization — as child abuse. He’s also asking teachers, therapists and other licensed professionals to turn in families supporting those trans youth. While these actions are not legally binding, they do have real consequences. Parents in Texas are terrified that, simply by loving and supporting their kids, they can be reported to Child Protective Services.
Meanwhile, lawmakers in more than a dozen states are considering anti-transgender legislation, including moving bills in Alabama, Ohio and Arizona that would criminalize healthcare decisions made between parents, medical experts and transgender youth. Extremist politicians are also seeking to remove books that include transgender characters from school libraries, prohibit any discussion of LGBTQ+ people in schools, force teachers to “out” students to their parents, require separate bathrooms for transgender students and ban transgender youth from playing sports.
These are not real policy conversations. They’re attacks on the very existence of transgender children.
None of us know who our children will grow to be. None of us comes equipped with all of the answers. When we need help, we often turn to our children’s teachers, to doctors, to those who have the expertise, knowledge and experience that we do not. But these laws would effectively shut the door on these resources for hundreds of thousands of families across the country. It’s why the nation’s leading health, education and human services groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Education Association, and the American Psychological Association — together representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals — released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to stop these measures. The experts have spoken — and they make clear that affirming and supporting LGBTQ+ youth is essential for optimal health and wellbeing. Period.
Craven political attacks on transgender youth have real consequences: a recent study found that, in South Dakota, where Governor Kristi Noem personally authored and recently signed the first anti-trans bill of 2022 into law, and where her chief of staff recently likened transgender student athletes to terrorists, nearly 90% of LGBTQ+ people experience feelings of depression. When asked why LGBTQ+ people in her state experience such high levels of depression, Gov. Noem claimed not to know the reason.
We know why, Governor Noem: attacks on our kids are hurting them. And research proves it.
Ironically, lots of politicians are talking about “parents’ rights” these days, especially when it comes to making education and healthcare decisions for children. If having rights as parents means anything, it has to mean that we are able to provide our children with the evidence-based medical care they need. It has to mean that we can openly affirm that they are wonderful as they are and that we’re right beside them on their journey. Parenting is full of challenges, but we love our children — including transgender children — and we are proud of them. It is these lawmakers who should be ashamed.
Governor Abbott, Governor Reynolds, Governor DeSantis, Governor Ivey, Governor Noem — all governors and legislators across the country: Stop threatening our trans kids.