Texas governor’s disgusting assault on trans healthcare slammed as ‘dangerous political attack’

Texas governor Greg Abbott, a white man, speaks into a microphone as he addresses a crowd

The White House has joined LGBT+ groups across Texas in condemning governor Greg Abbott after he ordered officials to investigate gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth as “child abuse”.

In a letter sent on Tuesday (22 February), Abbott ordered state agencies to “conduct prompt and thorough investigations” of healthcare for young trans people, listing gender-affirming surgeries (which are not routinely, if at all, carried out on under-18s) and puberty blockers.

He called such treatment “abusive”, and said healthcare officials could face jail time if they fail to report such care.

Abbott’s directive followed a legal opinion from Ken Paxton, the attorney general of Texas. Paxton’s opinion alleged that giving gender-affirming care and prescribing hormone blockers is “child abuse” under Texas law.

LGBT+ groups have denounced both statements as having nothing to do with science, and everything to do with politics.

Adri Pérez, policy and advocacy strategist at the ACLU of Texas, said that gender-affirming care “saved my life”.

They added that trans kids deserve the same high “standard of care, rooted in decades of scientific research”.

“No partisan political attack can change that,” Pérez said. “Our state’s leaders need to focus on helping our youth and all people in our state instead of falsely attacking parents and doctors who are lovingly advocating for their children with the medically necessary care.”

Brian Klosterboer, staff attorney at the ACLU of Texas, assured people living in the state Abbott and Paxton’s words have “no legal effect” and can’t change the state’s law “nor usurp the constitutional rights” of families.

But he said the statements “spread fear and misinformation and could spur false reporting of child abuse” at a time when the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is “already facing a crisis in our state’s foster care system”.

Ricardo Martinez – CEO of Equality Texas, the largest LGBT+ rights organisation in the state – slammed Abbott, Paxton and other “anti-LGBTQ+ politicians” for trying to turn “Texans against their LGBTQ+ neighbours through an onslaught of harmful legislation, inflammatory rhetoric” and “discredited legal opinions”.

“They have found it politically advantageous to spread lies about and villainize LGBTQ+ people, especially transgender people, grossly mischaracterising our lives to paint us as scary caricatures that need to be feared, all in service of securing their re-elections,” Martinez said.

He also highlighted that this campaign of “disinformation” about trans people and their healthcare comes just “days before the primary election” on 1 March.

Several LGBT+ rights organisationscelebrities and members of the US women’s national soccer team have come out in support of Texas’ trans community in the wake of these anti-trans sentiments.

The Biden administration has also condemned Greg Abbott’s decision and Paxton’s legal opinion in a statement to ABC News.

The White House declared Paxton’s “attack on loving parents who seek medical care for their transgender children” as being “dangerous to the health of kids in Texas”.

It added that the legal opinion is part of a “much larger trend of conservative officials cynically attacking LGBTQI+ youth to score political points”.

“Families should have the right to seek health care that will enable young people to live healthy and fulfilled lives,” the statement continued. “Conservative officials in Texas and other states across the country should stop inserting themselves into health care decisions that create needless tension between paediatricians and their patients.”

The White House added that parents shouldn’t have to face the “agony of a politician standing in the way of accessing life-saving care for their child”.