Civil rights groups blast Greg Abbott for transgender 'child abuse' policy

Civil rights groups blast Greg Abbott for transgender 'child abuse' policy
Greg Abbott speaking at FreePac, hosted by FreedomWorks, in Phoenix, Arizona in 2012, Gage Skidmore
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Republican Governor Greg Abbott, just one week before the gubernatorial primary, is facing massive nationwide outrage and condemnation after ordering this week the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to investigate for “child abuse” anyone aware of certain medical treatments for transgender youth, in yet another example of Lone Star State vigilantism.

Parents, medical professionals, teachers, even neighbors could all face “criminal penalties” – not just for allowing or participating in medical care for trans youth, but for not reporting to state authorities any knowledge of medical care, Abbott warned, as NBC News reports.

On Monday Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton declared he has interpreted Texas law to deem nationally-recognized medical care for transgender youth “child abuse.”

The ACLU disagrees.

“Attorney general Paxton’s opinion and Governor Abbott’s letter have no legal effect, can’t change Texas law, and can’t override the constitutional rights of Texas families,” the ACLU said. “No court anywhere in the country has ever found that gender-affirming care can be considered child abuse.

The White House also denounced the moves.

“The Texas Attorney General’s attack on loving parents who seek medical care for their transgender children is dangerous to the health of kids in Texas and part of much larger trend of conservative officials cynically attacking LGBTQI+ youth to score political points,” White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. “Families should have the right to seek health care that will enable young people to live healthy and fulfilled lives.”

“Conservative officials in Texas and other states across the country should stop inserting themselves into health care decisions that create needless tension between pediatricians and their patients,” Jean-Pierre added. “And no parent should face the agony of a politician standing in the way of accessing life-saving care for their child.”

Already five Texas district attorneys have denounced Paxton and Abbott’s orders as “life-threatening,” KXAN reports.

“We want to assure our residents with transgender children that they are safe to continue seeking the care their children need,” the district attorneys’ statement read. “We will not allow the Governor and Attorney General to disregard Texan children’s lives in order to score political points.”

Other state and national officials and organizations have quickly condemned Abbott’s and Paxton’s moves.

“Gender affirming care for transgender youth is essential and can be life-saving,” wrote U.S. Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Rachel Levine, who is a pediatrician and a professor of pediatrics and psychiatry. “Our nation’s leading pediatricians support evidence-based, gender affirming care for transgender young people. HHS stands with transgender youth and their medical providers.”

“Republican governors and legislators have targeted innocent children solely aiming to exist as their truest selves,” Democratic National Committee chair Jaime Harrison said in a statement. “Medical experts have reaffirmed the reality that gender-affirming care saves lives. But instead, Governor Abbott is cynically using Texas children as a political weapon and perpetuating senseless hatred towards the transgender and gender non-conforming community.”

GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Elllis says, “Texas leaders should listen to the experts instead of deciding they know what’s best for families. Every major U.S. medical association supports affirming healthcare for transgender youth. Healthcare is just that—care, and to suggest that trans youth should be separated from their families sends a terrifying and alarming message to kids and parents not just in Texas, but nationwide. Businesses that operate in Texas and host high-profile events like SXSW should contact Gov. Abbott and let him know how this will make doing business in the state more difficult and that the only result of his action will be unnecessary harm to trans people and parents of trans youth.”

“Our research found that gender-affirming hormone therapy has been linked to lower rates of depression and suicide risk among trans youth who wanted it,” Amit Paley, CEO and executive director of LGBTQ advocacy group The Trevor Project, said in a statement to ABC News. “The government should not be involved in personal decisions that force doctors and families to act against the medical community’s standards of care for transgender young people.”

Texas Freedom Network spokeswoman Imelda Mejia told Insider Abbott’s and Paxton’s moves are “monstrous and amoral actions.”

“They go against medical standards and may deny children life-saving, gender-affirming care,” Mejia added. “Transgender children deserve gender-affirming care. Transgender children and their families deserve to know that they are safe, loved, and valued by their fellow Texans.”

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