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Commentary: Greg Abbott Doesn't Care About Trans Kids

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Texas politicians continue to weigh in on healthcare matters that have literally nothing to do with them. Recently following an opinion written by the Texas atttorney general Ken Paxton, Gov. Greg Abbott sent a letter to the Department of Family and Protective services calling on them to investigate any reports of minors who are receiving gender-affirming medical care. The directive is also asking licensed professionals and the general public to report the parents of transgender children who are supporting their kids in accessing services. Just like the abortion bill that was passed last year,Texas Republicans are involving other people in situations that do not directly impact their lives.

According to the ACLU, Abbott’s letter has no legal standing and can’t change current laws or take away rights of Texas families. Backed by decades of research, multiple medical associations agree that gender-affirming care is medically necessary for transgender youth. These situations should be addressed between parents, their children, and their medical providers.

Once again conservatives are not following evidence-based research and wanting to dictate orders based on what they think is right or wrong. For the life of me I don’t understand how this is small government. I don’t understand how this protects children.  And I don’t understand how this is for anything other than self-serving political gain. Greg Abbott doesn’t care about these children or minimizing child abuse. He cares about his re-election and playing to a transphobic base who hides behind their bigotry with the false use of God.

Governor, if you think abuse is so wrong where are you when these children grow up to be adults and face the barriers that you allow to exist. When they make their own choices legally and are still living their authentic lives as transgender adults, where are you to protect them from abuse? Where are you to ensure access to housing, jobs, healthcare, and physical and psychological safety. Transgender people are facing violence and discrimination on a regular basis.

In 2019, Texas had the highest murder rate of transgender people in the country. Most of them Black, and most of them women. Is that not abuse? But that appears to be the type of abuse that he is fine with. The type of abuse that it is okay to stay silent about. The type of abuse that upholds the status quo. It upholds a white supremacist, patriarchal, anti-LGBTQ society. It rejects anyone that is different and makes people uncomfortable. Well you know what makes me uncomfortable. The fact that transgender youth report significantly increased rates of depression, suicidality, and victimization compared to their cisgender peers.

The Human Rights Campaign reported in 2020 that 43 percent of transgender youth have been bullied on school property, compared to 18 percent of cisgender youth, and 29 percent of transgender youth have attempted suicide, compared to 7 percent of cisgender youth. It has also been reported that providing support to transgender kids makes a significant difference. Research shows that transgender youth with supportive families have a 52 percent decrease in suicidal thoughts, a 46% decrease in suicide attempts, and a significant increase in self-esteem and general health. But tell me again about how parents are abusing their children.

The reality is Greg Abbott represents a society that lives in judgement and fear instead of compassion and understanding. He is signaling to parents to reject their children. To choose rejection instead of affirmation. To choose hate instead of love. How is that minimizing abuse? Only love and affirmation can do that.

If you are a transgender youth know that you have people who are fighting for you every day. If you are the parent of a transgender youth know that your affirmation is everything to your child. You are not abusing them you are loving them unconditionally. And in these situations, love and affirmation saves lives. 

Ashley Innes is a writer and HIV advocate. Follow her on Twitter @Ash_Innes

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