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Gov. Abbott Orders Child Abuse Investigations of Parents to Trans Youth

Percy Bartelt, staff writer

In April 2021, officials in Texas, primarily Gov. Greg Abbott, proposed that parents that allow their transgender child to begin medically transitioning should be investigated and legally charged with child abuse. As of Feb. 2022, these proposals are beginning to be put into action, with Gov. Abbott instructing the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (TDFPS) to begin investigating parents of trans children on the grounds of classifying gender affirming care as “child abuse.” Those subject to intervention under this policy aren’t just limited to hormone replacement therapy or gender-affirming surgeries, but also include hormone blockers, which are fully reversible and prescribed to youth in order to delay puberty.

“Texas law imposes reporting requirements upon all licensed professionals who have direct contact with children who may be subject to such abuse, including doctors, nurses, and teachers, and provides criminal penalties for failure to report such abuse,” said Abbott in a letter to the TDFPS. “Texas law also imposes a duty on DFPS to investigate the parents of a child who is subjected to these abusive gender-transitioning procedures.”

Some investigations have already taken place. According to the New York Times, J. David Goodman, the Houston bureau chief, was among the first people to be investigated by Gov. Abbott. An anonymous employee with the state protective services agency, Jane Doe, claimed that Goodman refused to voluntarily give forth their child’s medical history during the investigation. 

In response to Gov. Abbott’s bill and actions of investigation, Texas activist groups like American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Lambda Legal, which both focus on civil rights issues primarily within the LGBTQ+ community, officially filed within court to block this bill request from being passed, challenging the legitimacy of Abbott’s argument of reasoning for this bill. 

“For Governor Abbott and Attorney General Paxton, it seems the cruelty is the point,” Senior Counsel Paul Castillo said in a statement from Lambda Legal. “They are joining a politically motivated misinformation campaign with no consideration of medical science and seem determined to criminalize parents seeking to care and provide for their kids, and medical professionals abiding by accepted standards of care for transgender youth. Gender-affirming care for the treatment of gender dysphoria is medically necessary care, full stop.”

Although this policy is currently taking effect across the country, many Augsburg students and advocates have strong opinions about the ramifications it might have for trans youth. “Had I not had the familial acceptance and support to transition socially and eventually medically, I wouldn’t be here, that’s the reality of the situation,” said first year Aiden Lutjen when asked about how such a policy would have affected him as an adolescent. “This bill is supposed to ‘protect’ kids or some bullshit, but what it’s really doing is killing them and ruining their families’ lives forever.” It has been theorized by many government officials and news sources like the Texas Tribune that this bill wouldn’t likely pass in office. Even the White House has publicly condemned Abbott’s decision, with a spokesperson telling ABC News that the bill was an “attack on loving parents who seek medical care for their transgender children” and that it was “dangerous to the health of kids.” It is also very unlikely that these child abuse cases will hold up in court, but it is clear that Gov. Abbott’s propositions and investigations are making an impact on Texas as a whole.