“I will not let people who don’t know me or my family destroy our lives. I hope my fellow Texans will do the same by voting for people who want to make the state better — not erase families like mine.” – The loving parent of a transgender child from Texas
Today, January 30, oral arguments in the case against Senate Bill 14 — which bans lifesaving gender-affirming care for transgender youth — took place at the Texas Supreme Court.
Although there’s an ongoing lawsuit against the state, the Court still allowed the ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth to go into effect on September 1, 2023.
For years now, Texans have watched — and countless have fought back — as our state’s leaders remain unwavering in their callous attacks on transgender youth and their loving families.
Picture credit: Geoff Carlisle
First, Attorney General Ken Paxton threatened in 2022 that the state’s child welfare system — which remains under federal investigation — would take children and teens away from their caregivers if they provided gender-affirming care for transgender youth.
Imagine your child could no longer receive lifesaving healthcare that every major medical association in the country supports.
Would you pack up and leave your home for good? Would you travel out of state for treatment? Would you plead with your fellow Texans to remember your family at the ballot box? What would you say to state leaders who claim your child does not exist?
We asked three families of transgender youth to share their experiences. Their names have been kept anonymous/pseudonyms have been used for safety. Here’s what they said:
From Family L:
My kid is SO much cooler than I was at 13. She’s a math wiz who loves Science. She’s also got this artistic side and just absolutely NAILED her first theatre audition.
She loves chess and doesn’t give a sh*t if you think it’s nerdy. She’s… incredibly herself.
She’s also just a kid who bickers with her brother and rolls her eyes at me in the mornings.
And when she was three and a half, she put on a dress for the first time.
She kept doing it every chance she had — but she’d never wear them outside.
Then, at six, our happy kid kicked the teacher. It was weird. It wasn’t her.
I said she was a great person but wasn’t making great choices. When I asked what she liked about herself, she said — “I don’t like anything. I don’t like that I’m not a girl.”
I love my child, but I did not come to this table willingly. I was afraid. All I’d seen about the trans experience was doom and gloom.
Some people think we chose this for our kids. Back then I thought, “What would I be gaining from this? Awkward conversations for the rest of my life?”
There’s such joy in finding out who my daughter is. But this state, this world, has made it a struggle from start to finish.
Greg Abbott and his friends are sacrificing my child’s life to get re-elected.
If I had them in a room, I’d just say… what a shame.
They will never know the contributions she could make to this state if they just allowed her to be who she is.
Please. Just let her be the wonderful person she will be.
From Family W:
We can’t say we were surprised when Whitley announced she felt most herself using the pronouns she/they.
She never felt “boy” defined her. When teachers would separate her class into “boys and girls,” Whitley would balk.
“Where do I belong?” At seven she heard the phrase “gender fluid” and immediately exclaimed, “That’s me!”
Her teen years have been a blossoming — laughing with friends, crafting songs, making dinner with her sister. She’s a powerhouse of personality and creativity.
When Governor Abbott directed the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate parents providing gender-affirming care to trans children, Whitley donned a trans pride flag like a cape and joined the protests.
She led her school’s Gender-Sexuality Alliance and made an award-winning short film depicting her activism.
But the onslaught of anti-trans sentiment, the ignored testimonies of medical experts, and the Texas legislature’s actions have made her unwelcome in her home state.
At her darkest moments, she’s blunt: “These people want me dead.”
What do you tell a child when the state declares that she should not be who she knows herself to be?
It was time to leave. We packed up the house and steered toward a state where our daughter’s identity was not political fodder.
With the support of our community and the flexibility of our careers and finances, we could move. So many others cannot.
We were compelled to leave our family, friends, and home — and we are the lucky ones.
From Family G:
We were very clear when my daughter told us who she was: We love you. Full stop.
Then, one day there was a story about Paxton’s directive on the news, and with deep sadness in her voice my daughter said, “They’re talking about me.”
No child should have to shoulder this kind of blatant cruelty.
Right as we were learning what it meant to have a trans child, the government started attacking us. Children were being pulled out of school and interrogated without their parents because their caregivers were suspected of simply following the guidance of every major medical organization.
My husband and I kept asking each other, “Is the already crumbling foster care system really investigating loving families like ours?”
It was just hard to believe what was happening. We consulted several lawyers to find out if they could actually take our child away. They told us to think about what our risk tolerance was. When it comes to the safety of our child — it’s zero.
We decided if we could figure out a way to leave, we would. So within a matter of months, we sold our home, said goodbye to our loved ones, and moved.
What has transpired since is a lot of grief and loss. But still, I’m grateful to have been able to protect my child.
Families are scrambling to leave and trying to find medical care for their kids. Doctors are fleeing before the bill even goes into effect. What people don’t understand is we’re all being harmed — everyone’s rights and bodily autonomy are being taken away.
Frankly, I don’t understand how people can’t see that we are being scapegoated and the issues that actually impact their own lives are being ignored.
My kid is so sweet. Smart. Funny. Shy. School can be hard anyway, and on top of that, she internalizes the transphobia — I’ll worry about that for the rest of our lives. But now that we are in our new home, I’m beginning to feel like I can breathe again.
I will not let people who don’t know me or my family destroy our lives. I hope my fellow Texans will do the same by voting for people who want to make the state better — not erase families like mine.