Unwavering and Unbreakable: Addressing recent attacks on Trans and Non-Binary Youth
Dear Friends, Family and Community,
We’re horrified that Texas Governor Abbott has instructed the Department of Family and Protective Services to begin investigating what he and Texas Attorney General Paxton have newly defined “child abuse”: families loving and supporting their trans and gender expansive children. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) wants Texas communities to report parents and “licensed professionals” such as doctors, nurses and teachers, to state authorities if there is any sign they are supporting or providing transition-related care.
According to the ACLU, this “opinion is not legally binding, and it remains up to the courts to interpret Texas laws and the Constitution. Moreover, DFPS cannot remove any child from their parents or guardians without a court order. No court here in Texas or anywhere in the country has ever found that gender-affirming care can be considered child abuse. The opinion released by Paxton cites highly partisan, outdated, and inaccurate information that ignores the consensus of every major medical association and the evidence-based and peer-reviewed standards of care. Trans youth continue to be threatened in Texas by state leadership as part of a politically motivated misinformation campaign that harms children.”
This is only part of a wave of anti-trans legislation that has swept across the United States, and according to Freedom for All Americans, there are more states in the nation considering anti-trans legislation than there are not. (You can see their legislation tracker here.)
According to the ACLU, there are at least 17 states so far in 2022 that have introduced bills that prohibit or criminalize gender-affirming care for trans youth.
The ACLU has also made a statement warning against similar efforts and their impact on trans youth, “If allowed to go into effect, the law will undermine the mental, emotional, and physical health of transgender and non-binary people across the state.”
No matter who you are or where you live
You can find groups working against these harmful attacks on bodily autonomy and trans lives by taking a look at the map on our website. Our map lists all TJFP applicants and grantees, grassroots trans-led groups organizing for trans liberation, that need the support of people on the ground in their communities! We encourage you to donate directly or offer your time, skills, and support, however you can with groups in your area.
“They don’t want to protect us, they want to control and eradicate us. And it is through our collective action that we resist and rebuild the world we want and need to live in” -Chase Strangio, Deputy Director for Transgender Justice, ACLU LGBT & HIV Project
A testament from TJFP’s Database & Communications Coordinator, Demian Yoon
Long before I joined TJFP, I was a trans child in New York, seeking care from my parents and a number of social work and medical professionals to support a transition that was already happening. My transition from numbly accepting a cis, closeted life, to a life where I could demand the care I knew I deserved, could make the moves I needed to be free from dysphoria and distress.
The legal decisions around my name change, the medical decisions around my physical transition, weren’t ones I was allowed to make on my own, and required a lot of second opinions and permission from authority figures. But whether my parents supported me or not, whatever my teachers or doctors had to say about it, I already knew I was trans. Receiving gender-affirming care and transitioning as a child simply let me continue living and growing in a way that felt most correct and right to me.
I do not know what I would have done if I had grown up in a state that interpreted transitioning under the age of 18 as child abuse. When we are children, when we are the most vulnerable and reliant on the authority figures around us, it is already terrifying to know you are trans and to ask for care. It is extraordinarily cruel to tell trans children, and the trans adults that they become, that the love and understanding they do receive is abuse. That the state will reward people who hate them. That all of this is done, supposedly, because the state has an interest in “protecting children.”
I did not and will never need to be protected from the rich, full, trans adolescence I had, the life I grew into through transitioning. The things I actually needed the most protection from were the condescension, mistrust, and archaic ideas about gender that slowed my transition. Even as a fully grown trans adult, coming from a background of strong family support and a relatively uneventful transition, I still feel helpless, still feel so much rage at the surveillance and control forced upon trans children like the one I was. Childhood is for being messy, for exploring and changing, for practicing being human, for learning how to care and support by being supported and cared for. It is not for living white-knuckled in fear and pain, for trying to perform normal good enough, waiting to reach some arbitrary age to possibly access freedom. It is not for fearing your family will be investigated for your personal medical decisions. We all want and need so much more, and we all deserve full and meaningful lives, free of cruel and unnecessary interventions by people far removed from our realities.
Part of TJFP’s mission is to move money to trans-led grassroots groups and projects centering trans justice in the US and US territories. Additionally we honor and amplify the ways our communities organize, create and shift culture, commit their love and care, and fight like hell for trans liberation.
We share your outrage with the seemingly endless attacks on our communities and yet we’re reminded all the time how incredibly powerful our grantees, applicants and our larger TJFP community is. We resist any narratives or efforts that seek to undermine our communities’ survival. Trans communities have proven throughout history that our commitments to keeping each other safe are unwavering and unbreakable. We are committed to trans futures, trans stories, trans families, and trans lives on a deep and personal level because these are ours, our kin in transness and queerness, our family that we will show up to protect. We are here with you!
Here’s what you can do
Chase Strangio identified 3 key action steps in his update on Instagram:
- We need to raise awareness. Whether it’s your state or not, make some noise! People need to know what’s going on. Utah wants to inspect trans kids’ bodies. Florida is trying to erase the entire LGBTQIA community. Arizona is attacking critically needed affirming healthcare again. GET LOUD.
- Contact your legislators. Visit www.openstate.org to find out what’s happening and start making calls. Your action is needed and VOTE if you can. Primaries are coming!
- Look to your local organizers for direction and support them however you can. You can donate, offer your skills and services and show up when called on. Please remember that these groups might be overwhelmed right now and unable to field every call or request but your support is still needed. Please feel free to check out our directory and digital map to find groups and projects in your area.
We are sending so much love to our trans community everywhere. Always.