On February 18th, in the middle of early voting for the Texas primary elections, Attorney General Ken Paxton released a non-binding opinion grossly mischaracterizing medically necessary, best-practice healthcare for transgender children as child abuse. Shortly after, Governor Abbott sent a letter to the Department of Family Protective Services (DFPS) directing them to enforce Paxton’s opinion.
Every major, credible medical association supports age-appropriate, best-practice standards of healthcare for transgender youth and adults. Misconstruing the law and amplifying junk science to attack innocent children and their parents is cruel, beneath contempt, and could have a devastating effect on transgender youth and their families.
*Paraphrased from Equality Texas, read the full statement in the linked article
What to know:
– Neither the AG nor the Governor can change the law. The AG opinion and the Governor’s letter are not legally binding.
– No court in Texas, or anywhere in the country, has ever found that gender affirming care can be considered child abuse.
– Texas law protects families from false reports of child abuse.
– Fear mongering about the lives of transgender people fuels bias and discrimination – putting transgender kids and adults at risk.
What you can do:
Remember, the Governor’s letter is non-binding. DFPS is not required to change any policies around transgender youth.
If you’re directly affected as a parent, a trans young person, or a license holding mandatory reporter (teachers, social workers, counselors) the following guidance has been devised by EQTX, TX mandated reporters, and other knowledgeable attendees at an emergency meeting last night (zoom recording to be released by EQTX if you’d like to watch):
1. Folks from Lamda Legal and the ACLU reiterated over and over again that this “guidance” is non-binding and changes nothing in the existing law.
2. As this “guidance” in Texas is non-binding, mandated reporters, such as counselors, teachers, etc. absolutely do NOT need to report anything about trans youth to CPS. In fact, disclosing information about anyone’s medical care from a school context would likely be a violation of FERPA, and in the case of counselors and medical professionals a possible violation of HIPAA.
3. A parent shared her unfortunate experience of being reported to CPS last summer related to gender affirmation. Her case was referred to something called alternative response. She said her CPS caseworker was affirming, she shared information from her safe folder and the case was closed in about a week.
4. A safe folder is used to protect and educate – it is essentially a roadmap for the kiddo’s life. Families are advised to keep one copy at home and one copy out of the home. The folder should include as many of these items as possible: a letter from their pediatrician, letter from their therapist, a letter from any other healthcare professionals in the child’s life, at least 3 letters from friends/family/other important adults in the child’s life, any art/writing that represent’s their identity, any screenshots/images displaying affirming gender behaviors, copies of birth cert/ss card/passport, name change docs off applicable, and of course the results of any home study documenting family stability if applicable.
5. Parents and youth have a right to privacy. Lambda and the ACLU are dedicated to providing pro bono legal support.