ICYMI: VIDEO – LGBTQ+ Advocates Rally on Steps of Austin Courthouse In Support of Transgender Kids and Families

by Henry Berg-Brousseau

Read quotes from anonymous parents below

The Human Rights Campaign, Equality Texas, TFN, ACLU and TENT joined on the steps of the Travis County Courthouse to condemn Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton’s craven, politically motivated attacks on transgender youth, following a hearing in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and Lambda Legal to block Texas from investigating parents who support their transgender kids.

Gov. Abbott and A.G. Paxton’s unprecedented efforts to prevent transgender youth from accessing best-practice, age-appropriate, medically-necessary, gender-affirming care goes against every major medical and mental health organization in the country – each of which supports gender-affirming care for transgender and non-binary people. Many national and Texas-based organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Texas State Teachers Association, National Education Association, and the National Association of Social Workers, have all spoken out.

Today’s event comes as more than 7,000 people from all 50 U.S. states and Washington D.C. joined the Human Rights Campaign in an open letter condemning the avalanche of anti-transgender legislation moving in legislatures across the country.



Anonymous Parent of a Transgender Young Person In Texas:

“I can’t be here today to speak because my family is scared and worried that speaking publicly could lead to a criminal investigation. That sounds outlandish but it is a reality for many Texas families.

We began the process of leaving Texas last year after the hearing for Senate Bill 1646 – a bill criminalizing affirming parents of transgender children as child abusers… We will be gone soon, to a state with explicit protections for trans kids and adults. We are leaving behind our family, our friends, and our community. We are leaving behind the city where my husband and I have both been raised and where we started our family. We are leaving the home we thought we would raise our children to adulthood in.

We never imagined we would become political targets in our own state… No one should ever face the difficult decision to uproot their life to protect their children in America. We are choosing to grieve the loss of our home instead of the loss of our child.

Ricardo Martinez, Equality Texas:

“The assault on our community, our extended family has not ended. Here we are in court once again to defend our humanity, to warn about the unconstitutionality of the witch hunt to persecute loving families and it’s frankly exhausting.

Every trans and LGBTQ+ person regardless of race, class, gender, sexual orientation or ability deserves to live happy and authentic lives without government intrusion.

There are thousands of people across Texas who are fighting for your right to exist authentically and safely in this state and we will not give up.”

Val Benavidez, TFN Executive Director

“Paxton and Abbott do not scare us and will never separate us. Texans deserve so much better than egocentric leaders who don’t care about the children who call Texas home. Our message to them is loud and clear: transgender children are a blessing and we will fight back against your cursed views.

Rebecca Marques, Human Rights Campaign Texas State Director:

“While Abbott’s approach is unique to Texas, the effort to limit the rights of transgender people is not. Across the country, this year alone, more than 125 anti-trans bills have been introduced. It’s all part of a coordinated effort by anti-LGBTQ+ extremists. For every bill introduced, the transgender community suffers. Every headline, every hearing, every minute spent worrying about these efforts increases depression, isolation, stress and fear for transgender children, teens, adults and the people who love them.

Adri Perez, ACLU of Texas Policy and Advocacy Strategist:

“After coming out at the age of 17, it took me nearly 3 years to access medically necessary, best practice, life-saving, and gender-affirming health care. And it saved my life.

All people, regardless of their race, background, or gender should be able to access the healthcare that they need to thrive. Transgender Texans should be able to access medically necessary, lifesaving care. Denying this to our community is pure discrimination.

Emmett Schelling, TENT Executive Director:

“To be who we are, unapologetically, openly, and courageously – for you to recognize your truth – and to have your parents love and support you is a special thing. Parents, hang in there. We are fighting. We will not rest until we see dignity, we see respect, and we see freedom for our transgender community here in Texas. Adults and children alike.

We are done being kicked around by those supposed to protect us, people we elect into these seats, that face a responsibility to their community, to Texas – a responsibility to lead us in a way that benefits the state, that benefits its people, and that doesn’t hurt people.

Anonymous Parent of a Transgender Young Person from Corpus Christi:

I believed trans kids in Texas were safe – at least until the next legislative session. This week hit me like a ton of bricks.”

Anonymous Parent of a Transgender Young Person from Austin:

“Abbott and the people who support and enable him have taken away some of my joy and my peace.”

“It’s just a political stunt, people tell me. They’re right. And I hope voters keep that in mind – that Abbot and Paxton are willing to harm children for political gain. That these two men are willing to break up Texas families just to score political points.

Anonymous Parent of a Transgender Young Person from San Antonio:

“My family is devastated – too in shock to process a state-sanctioned witch hunt against us resulting in my child being removed from my home and put into foster care.

Anonymous Parent of a Transgender Young Person from Austin:

“I have tried to stay positive, but it’s hard when you feel like you are in an abusive relationship with your home state. I am exhausted, anxious, scared, and most of all angry.”

Anonymous Parent of a Transgender Young Person from San Antonio:

“It makes me physically ill to have to imagine having to flee this state.”

Anonymous Parent of a Transgender Young Person from Houston:

“I am relieved that we are moving out of state and filled with anxiety for everyone who can’t escape this nightmare.”

Earlier this week, Gov. Abbott took the unprecedented move of directing Texas’s Department of Family and Protective Services to consider best-practice, age-appropriate, medically-necessary, gender-affirming care for transgender children as child abuse. Abbott’s letter follows the release of a legal opinion by Attorney General Paxton - which is not legally binding - that opined the same.

Governor Abbott and Attorney General Paxton’s unprecedented efforts are craven, politically motivated attempts to criminalize healthcare decisions made between parents, medical experts, and transgender youth. Every major medical and mental health organization in the country supports gender-affirming care for transgender and non-binary people, and Prevent Child Abuse America has condemned the Attorney General’s opinion.

This most recent attack on transgender youth comes via executive action, but transgender youth have been under attack in state legislatures for several years. A record number of anti-transgender bills were filed in 2021, largely focused on denying transgender youth the ability to receive gender-affirming care and participate in school athletics programs. Even more anti-transgender legislation is on track to be filed in 2022. South Dakota has already passed one anti-transgender law this year, and Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin are on the verge of passing anti-transgender bills in the coming days. Additionally, Florida is considering two bills that more broadly impact all LGBTQ+ youth.

Even when anti-transgender legislation does not become law, politicians are culpable for the harm they cause to LGBTQ+ people’s wellbeing simply by being subjected to continual legislative attacks on their dignity and humanity. As we saw just last week, there are real consequences to the discrimination perpetrated upon LGBTQ+ people, and particuarly transgender youth.

Anti-transgender legislation also affects business’ bottom lines – having widespread negative impacts on the workforce, ability to recruit, and productivity. As a result, 150+ businesses have signed a Business Statement Opposing Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation, to take a clear stance against such legislation.

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