Life is already difficult for trans kids in Texas, but with so many anti-trans laws constantly being introduced in the state, there’s always the potential for it to get a lot harder. Most recently, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an official legal opinion directing the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to classify medical treatments for trans children as child abuse — and potentially, to begin prosecuting their parents as abusers. With this law (and possibly many more in the future) putting trans kids and their families at risk, here are 10 ways to support trans youth in Texas right now.
What is Abbott trying to do?
Abbott issued the official announcement to Commissioner Jaime Masters on Feb. 22, citing OAG Opinion No. KP-0401. “The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has now confirmed in the enclosed opinion that a number of so-called ‘sex-change’ procedures constitute child abuse under existing Texas law.” He specifies that, according to the OAG opinion, it is illegal for parents to allow their trans kids to obtain medical procedures and treatments to combat gender dysphoria, such as puberty blockers and hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
How will this directive be enforced?
Per The New York Times, it’s unclear how the OAG opinion would be enforced, and authorities in different parts of the state are sending mixed messages on whether or not they would prosecute parents of trans children. Still, the effect of the directive is chilling: Parents in violation of the OAG opinion could be charged with child abuse, a state felony punishable with years in jail and thousands of dollars in fines. Furthermore, the Texas governor has also imposed reporting requirements “upon all licensed professionals who have direct contact with children,” meaning doctors, nurses, and teachers must report trans children and their parents to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services — or face criminal penalties themselves.
How can I help?
“This is horrific,” said Human Rights Campaign president, Joni Madison, in a Feb. 23 tweet. “Gender-affirming care can be lifesaving for transgender youth. This discriminatory, dangerous [and] divisive action will have real-life consequences for trans kids & their families in Texas,” she adds. “Now more than ever, we have to #ProtectTransKids #txlege.” By providing financial assistance, spreading awareness through social media platforms, or even just donating your time to grassroots community organizations, you can help trans kids survive and thrive.
You can also support the below organizations that are working to protect and advocate for trans people in Texas.
Founded in Austin, TX, in 1990, OutYouth “offers youth of all sexual orientations and gender identities a place where they are loved, acknowledged, and accepted for exactly who they are.” For information on becoming a volunteer, you can click here. And for information on donating to support their mission, click here.
This Texas organization is specifically dedicated to supporting and celebrating queer and trans people of color by “building, educating, and mobilizing communities toward a just and equitable society.” For information on volunteering, click here. To donate, you can click here.
TENT, or the Transgender Education Network of Texas, is an organization committed to “furthering gender diverse equality in Texas.” They do this through “education and networking in both public and private forums,” and “strive to halt discrimination through social, legislative, and corporate education.” To fill out a volunteer form, you can click here. To donate to support their cause, click here.
Trans Pride Initiative
Officially founded in August 2011, the Trans Pride Initiative is a non-profit organizationcommitted to providing “assistance and support for transgender and gender diverse persons in areas of health care, housing, employment, education, and public accommodations.” To support their mission, you can donate here.
Fiesta Youth is a San Antonio-based non-profit dedicated to providing “a safe, non-judgmental, affirming place for LGBTQ+ young people to express and explore who they are through education, peer-support, advocacy, and friendship.” You can apply to become a volunteer here, and donate to support their mission here.
Amid this crisis for the LGBTQ+ community, The American Civil Liberties Union’s Texas chapteris providing a few key resources to support trans youth in the state. These resources include a toolkit for trans kids to understand their rights, mental health support, and area-specific LGBTQ+ youth organizations. To become an advocate to help defend the rights of trans kids in Texas, you can apply here.
National Center for Transgender Equality
The Texas Action Center at the National Center for Transgender Equality is focused on mobilizing citizens across the state to fight back against anti-trans legislation. For additional help, they’ve also supplied a network of law offices dedicated to providing legal services to the trans community. To support their mission, you can donate here.
Equality Texas Foundation
Equality Texas Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to providing the LGBTQ+ community and allies with the education and training they need to fight back against anti-trans legislation. To donate, you can click here.
Trans Kids and Families of Texas
This north Texas non-profit was founded in 2015 as a parental support and therapy group to support trans kids and their families in the Dallas-Forth Worth Metropolitan Area. Their goal is to “create community, provide support, and educate/advocate for Inclusivity and acceptance for all transgender people.” To support their vision, you can donate here.
Esperanza Peace and Justice Center
Founded by queer Chicana activists in 1989, the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center is dedicated to being a “politically progressive, outspoken, and unwavering force for justice in San Antonio and beyond.” They’ve been dedicated to serving San Antonio’s LGBTQ+ community throughout their years of operation, and have continually provided space and support for trans youth. To donate to support their mission, you can click here.
By Rhyme Castillo