HRC joined with others to condemn the craven, politically motivated attacks on transgender youth by Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton
AUSTIN, TX — Yesterday, the Human Rights Campaign joined with Equality Texas, the Transgender Education Network of Texas, medical providers, parents of transgender youth, and a young transgender person to condemn this week’s craven, politically motivated attacks on transgender youth by Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton — and to provide important context on the nationwide onslaught of attacks on transgender youth over the last three years.
Gov. Abbott and A.G. Paxton’s unprecedented efforts are part of broader attempts in states like South Dakota, Alabama and Florida to criminalize healthcare decisions made between parents, medical experts, and transgender youth. Since 2020, more than one hundred bills have been introduced aiming to prevent transgender youth from accessing best-practice, age-appropriate, medically-necessary, gender-affirming care. Every major medical and mental health organization in the country supports gender-affirming care for transgender and non-binary people. The American Academy of Pediatrics and Prevent Child Abuse America have condemned the Attorney General’s opinion.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT GOV. ABBOTT
Kate Oakley (she/hers), Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director and Senior Legislative Counsel: “The reality of enforcement of this extraordinary, lawless approach to transgender youth is yet to be seen. But the fear it has sparked is very real, and has very real consequences… But let me be clear: politicians like Noem, Abbott, and Paxton know perfectly well that they're stoking fear in people's hearts, including in transgender youth. The same is true of Governor DeSantis in Florida, and Governor Ivey in Alabama. It is true of lawmakers in Tennessee, Iowa, and Utah. It is cynical, political, and deeply, deeply painful. Politicians across the country know the cost of these actions, and they don't care.”
Libby Gonzales (she/hers), 11 year old Texan: “It feels very scary…it’s also super annoying that all of these lawmakers are just bullying me and other trans and non-binary kids. It’s really sad.”
Rachel Gonzales (she/hers), parent of a transgender young person in Texas and member of Parents for Transgender Equality Council (PTEC): “To say that it’s scary is an understatement of a lifetime..I’m embarrassed for our state. I’m embarrassed that the people that are charged with protecting the most vulnerable children in our state are putting them in harm’s way, using them repeatedly as their political pawns. Throwing some of the most marginalized children in our state into their political games is…there is no words…The number of messages I’ve received from parents over the last day in an absolute panic that their children are even terrified to go to school.”
Rebecca Marques (she/hers), Human Rights Campaign Texas State Director: “It is unconscionable for elected leaders to do this to kids. Of course, it also isn't surprising that Abbott and Paxton are behaving this way - Texas had more bad bills filed than any other state last year, which was the most anti-transgender year in state legislative history. Abbott is the top contender for tormenter of trans youth – though there’s stiff competition across the country.”
J. Egler (they/them), Licensed Social Worker: “The mental health impacts of this, regardless of the weight of law this does not carry, are incredibly real. We are putting a lot of burden on individual families…It is really attempting to ostracize any and all members of the LGBTQ and ally communities.”
Dr. Stephen M. Rosenthal, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, Medical Director, Child and Adolescent Gender Center: “What is so maddening, besides heartbreaking ... is that there are more than 25 years of published scientific evidence that support current clinical practice guidelines and standards of care. And people with the loudest voices -- politicians, who probably have never read any of the scientific studies or stepped foot into any one of the gender youth programs to really understand what's happening on the ground -- are pushing these things forward…This interdisciplinary model of care that is referred to as gender affirming approach has been endorsed by every major medical and mental health professional health society in the United States.”
Emmett Schelling (he/him), Executive Director, Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT): “On the ground we're seeing so much alarm and so much panic right now…What we're talking about is criminalizing parents who are doing their best to take care of their kids and to really just abide by, I think, the lowest threshold of what's called on us as parents: to simply love your kid and do the best you can to make sure they're taken care of and that they can be healthy and happy…We need to raise the alarm and for folks to understand.”
Ricardo Martinez (he/him), CEO, Equality Texas: “It's a sobering moment because we've been ringing the alarm for over a year and a half at this point…I think this is an inflection point ... We get to decide what is permissible, the way that we treat people. And we cannot allow politicians to drive this dangerous narrative that attacking children is acceptable.”
Every credible medical organization calls for affirming care for transgender and non-binary people.
Sexual orientation and gender identity are real concepts recognized by major medical and mental health associations -- including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry -- as part of the normal spectrum of human experience. Health care providers who work with transgender and non-binary people -- including young people -- are providing life-saving care, with many patients driving hundreds of miles just to get to their doctor’s office.
Transgender children are not undergoing irreversible medical changes.
This is a fundamental misunderstanding about what transition looks like for young people, which is primarily about providing social support, using the right name and pronouns, and allowing them to present in a way that is consistent with their gender identity. Therapists, parents and health care providers work together to determine which changes to make at a given time that are in the best interest of the child.
“Transition-related” or “gender-affirming” care looks different for every transgender and non-binary person.
Some transgender and non-binary people may choose to only socially transition, such as using a new name and pronouns, and dressing in a way that is consistent with their gender identity. Others may choose to socially and medically transition, including undergoing hormone therapy and/or gender affirmation surgery. Each person’s journey is unique to them. At the same time, many transgender and non-binary people cannot afford gender-affirming medical treatment, nor can they access it.
Not all transgender and non-binary people who transition have surgery.
Many transgender and non-binary people choose to transition without surgery. Some have no desire to pursue surgeries or medical intervention. Transgender children do not undergo gender-affirming surgeries, but may receive fully reversible medications that put puberty on hold under the care of a licensed medical provider.
Gender-affirming health care is lifesaving.
For transgender people, being denied critically necessary transition-related care can extend and exacerbate the stress and discomfort caused by gender dysphoria, leading to increased incidences of depression and substance abuse, as well as health complications caused by delaying care. Ensuring that transgender and non-binary people have access to trans-affirming health care is lifesaving. A recent study from the Trevor Project provides data supporting this - transgender youth with access to gender-affirming hormone therapy have lower rates of depression and are at a lower risk for suicide. Additionally, this study shows that parental support is vital in ensuring transgender youth’s mental and physical health.
Detransitioning is very rare. Medical regret is rarer.
According to the National Center for Transgender Equality’s 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, only 3% of respondents have detransitioned permanently at some point. The vast majority of respondents who detransition only do so temporarily. Detransitioning is often conflated with medical regret, however; detransitioning can include nonmedical parts of someone’s transition such as changes in their gender expression or legal changes to their identity. One study found that less than one-half of one percent of trans patients who have received gonadectomy report surgical regret. Also, there is no scientific evidence showing that surgical regret would cause trans people to forego surgery in hindsight. Surgical regret could include trans patients who do not regret receiving surgery, but may be disappointed with one or more minor details relating to the outcome of their surgery. Trans people who also regret one or more parts of their surgery do not always detransition. When respondents detransition, it could include reasons beyond surgical regret. According to that same survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality, respondents who detransitioned cited a number of reasons for doing so, including facing too much harassment or discrimination after they began transitioning (31%), having trouble getting a job (29%), or pressure from a parent (36%), spouse (18%), or other family members (26%).
For more information, please visit hrc.org/transgender, HRC’s Transgender and Non-Binary People FAQ and HRC’s Brief Guide to Getting Transgender Coverage Right. We would also be happy to connect you with medical experts, including Dr. Robert Garofalo, MD, MPH, Lurie Children’s Hospital, Chicago; Dr. Natalia Ramos, MD, MPH, UCLA; and Dr. Scott Leibowitz, MD, Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Dr. Garofalo is the Division Head, Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Lurie Children’s. Dr. Ramos is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, a board-certified child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist and Medical Director - STAR Clinic, EMPWR Program & UCLA Santa Monica Pediatric Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry. Dr. Leibowitz is a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. All are available for interviews if you would be interested in speaking with them.
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