State judge puts freeze on Abbott’s transgender directive

The+fate+of+Gov.+Greg+Abbott%E2%80%99s+directive+regarding+medical+treatments+provided+to+transgender+children+that+could+apply+to+school+employees%2C+as+well+as+all+licensed+professionals+who+have+direct+contact+with+children%2C+is+currently+on+hold+after+a+state+judge+ruled+Friday+that+providing+gender-affirming+care+is+not+a+reason+for+the+state+to+investigate+a+family+for+child+abuse.

Kasey Harvey

The fate of Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive regarding medical treatments provided to transgender children that could apply to school employees, as well as all licensed professionals who have direct contact with children, is currently on hold after a state judge ruled Friday that providing gender-affirming care is not a reason for the state to investigate a family for child abuse.

By Rin Ryu, Liberty High School - TX

The fate of Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive regarding medical treatments provided to transgender children that could apply to school employees, as well as all licensed professionals who have direct contact with children, is currently on hold after a state judge ruled Friday that providing gender-affirming care is not a reason for the state to investigate a family for child abuse.

In late February, Abbott sent a letter to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services ordering it to “conduct a prompt and thorough investigation of any reported instances of these abusive procedures in the State of Texas.”  

Abbott’s letter to the DFPS came on the heels of Attorney General Ken Paxton issuing a non-binding opinion classifying some gender-affirming surgeries as child abuse. 

According to the New York Times, supporters of Abbott’s directive argue that “children are too young to decide for themselves and must be shielded from potentially life-altering treatments that have only recently gained broader acceptance among the medical community.”

But while the future of Abbott’s directive works its way through the judicial system, trans teens throughout Texas are concerned.

“Abbott’s actions are leading to massively increased rates of hate crimes, and are giving people ‘excuses’ to discriminate against us,” Thalia Walker said. “Hopefully, it’ll turn out ok, but it’s extremely worrying, and it’s adding to the fact that trans people’s lives and existences are being politicized, and we’re treated as more of a talking point than actual humans.”

Abbott’s actions are leading to massively increased rates of hate crimes, and are giving people ‘excuses’ to discriminate against us”

— Thalia Walker

For senior James Gray* this narrative impacts his school life.

“It does make me very wary of the people at school, as I know have to be careful about who I open up to regarding my gender and sexual orientation,” James said. “Overall, it is a very bad disguise of transphobia.”

For Walker, Abbott’s letter emphasizes the negative connotation some people may have in regard to LGBT people.

“This [directive] is using the same stereotypes they’ve been using to attack LGBT people since the ’50s,” she said. “It’s only reinforcing the stereotypes to those who want to believe them, and those people often aren’t willing to learn to be better no matter what.”

Transgender people may encounter more stigmatization and oppression compared to their cisgender counterparts, contributing to higher rates of mental health complications. Walker understands the despair of transgender and questioning students across the state.

“There are probably people reading this who are questioning their identities,” Walker said. “I want to remind you all to please not let this hurt you too much. Being trans right now, especially in Texas, is very hard, but it’s worth it to be able to express yourself.”

* This is a pseudonym to protect the identity of the student 

This story was originally published on Wingspan on March 17, 2022.