We strongly condemn the recent actions of Texas Governor Greg Abbott to classify gender-affirming care for transgender children as “child abuse.”
Simply stated, gender-affirming care for transgender children is not child abuse. It is, in fact, a demonstration of love and acceptance. By contrast, the Texas action is abusive and ignores the facts that transgender children and adults are at greater risk of depression, thoughts of suicide and attempted suicide.
“As a mother to a transgender daughter adopted from foster care, I have seen the sheer joy and relief in my child when she was able to show up in the world as her true self. Labeling that experience as caregiver “abuse” will keep so many children imprisoned in their own bodies and minds—or in the loneliness and trauma of the child welfare system—perpetuating the anxiety and depression they too often already face due to stigma and feelings of fear and isolation. No one has the right to criminalize the love and care ALL children need and deserve.” Beth K., foster-adopt mother.
Equating gender affirming care with child abuse is a direct assault on the purpose of child protection laws and diverts child protection resources from legitimate reports of suspected child abuse, thereby endangering children. Texas’ action will require doctors, nurses, teachers, and other adults who have contact with transgender children to report purported “abuse” to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services or face possible criminal penalties.
We join San Francisco’s leadership in strongly denouncing the Texas action, including: Senator Scott Wiener – “California will always have the backs of LGBTQ youth & their families.” Mayor London Breed – “In San Francisco, we will continue to support all of our LGBTQ youth, the parents who love them, and our entire trans community.” Trent Rhorer, Executive Director of the San Francisco Human Services Agency, along with his colleagues throughout California at the County Welfare Directors Association of California, and their Executive Director, Cathy Senderling, also noted the pernicious effect of this action “in calling on child welfare agencies for political purposes when abuse or neglect are not present runs the risk of pulling our already limited staff resources away from vulnerable children and youth who are victims of, or at risk of, abuse and neglect.”
As an organization dedicated to strengthening families and ending child abuse, we stand with others from across the county to urge Texas leadership to reject attempts to use laws that are meant to protect children, to instead cause them great harm.
Katie Albright is an attorney and President & Chief Executive Officer of Safe & Sound, a San Francisco-based children’s advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening families and ending child abuse through evidenced-informed services, education, partnerships, and policy. Safe & Sound is part of a national network of family resource centers that partner with families each day to promote positive outcomes for children, caregivers, and communities.