The latest in a long line of attacks on the existence, freedom, and dignity of LGBTQ+individuals in the U.S. was waged on Wednesday, when Texas Governor Greg Abbott officially directed state agencies to investigate gender-affirming care for trans youths as “child abuse.” In a letter to the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services, Abbott defined gender-affirming treatments for transgender children—including gender reassignment surgery and puberty-blocking medications—as “abusive procedures.”
A spokesperson for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said it “will follow Texas law as explained.” Given Abbott’s decree, Texas doctors, nurses, teachers, and members of the public will now be obliged to report instances of what the governor referred to as “so-called ‘sex change’ procedures.”
Texas is one of several states that have ramped up their efforts to criminalize trans identity, with Arkansas, South Dakota, and Florida all recently considering or passing legislation that would ban gender-affirming treatment for minors, forbid trans girls and women from participating in female organized sports, and otherwise make living openly as a trans person as difficult and dangerous a proposition as possible.
It’s difficult to overstate just how deleterious an effect Texas’s new policy could have on the mental health and physical safety of trans youth. Moreover, empowering state agencies to investigate the parents of those youths is likely to have an outsized impact on families of color (who are already disproportionately criminalized and overrepresented in an over-taxed child welfare system). Yet the state—which has the second-biggest trans population in the U.S.—may serve as an example of how trans individuals will be targeted across the country if Greg Abbott’s GOP has its way.