Medical Treatment for Transgender Youth: Two Updates from the South

A lot of conservatives are of the opinion that minors are too young to know for sure about the need to alter their gender, and therefore that gender-affirming treatments such as hormone therapy and puberty blockers shouldn’t be made available to them.  In two states, actions by state government have been challenged in the courts.

In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott some time ago ordered the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to investigate for child abuse those parents who allowed their children to receive such treatment.  One affected family sued to get this stopped.  The lower court that heard the case issued a blanket injunction against such investigations.  The Texas supreme court reversed that injunction, which means that DFPS) can investigate parents of transgender youth getting gender-affirming treatment for child abuse, while also saying that (1) the governor can’t order such investigations, and (2) the investigation of the particular family involved in the suit could not continue.  Article in Texas Tribune, May 13, 2022  And now it appears that some such investigations may be going forward, though it’s too early to tell how far it’s going to go.  What it definitely means is that families of transgender youth must continue to live under a cloud of fear.  Article in Dallas Morning News, May 19, 2022  Note that it’s entirely Texas’s own state courts, not federal courts, that have been involved.

Alabama’s state legislature, meanwhile, recently passed a law making such treatment for youth under 19 years of age a felony.  This was promptly challenged in federal district court.  Although the federal judge didn’t issue a preliminary injunction against enforcement right away, he has issued one now, so a key part of the law can’t be enforced until the case is resolved.  The injunction applies to the ban on gender-affirming medicine: transgender youth will be able to get gender-affirming medicine while the trial proceeds.  Surgery is still illegal for transgender youth, but that hasn’t been taking place in Alabama, and school counselors are still required to notify the parents if their child self-reports having a transgender orientation.  NPR report, May 14, 2022

A few things to be aware of:

Reminder of a basic textbook concept:  To bring suit, a party has to prove “standing to sue,” that is, a personal stake in the matter, rather than just an opinion.  In both the Texas and Alabama cases, families of transgender youth have filed suit.

About parents:  Not all parents of transgender youth have the same response.  Some are supportive of their child’s orientation; others think it’s a phase their child needs to get over, or that it’s a sin against God to try to change one’s gender.  So in some instances, it’s the child and the parents together against the state government’s interference; in other instances, the parents resent the schools for being supportive of their child’s transgender orientation, even to the point of accusing the school of promoting it, or “grooming.”

About transgender people themselves:  I can’t speak from any personal experience, but I can quote a friend of mine who was previously male and is now female; she said to me, “It’s either this or commit suicide.”  And there have been some suicides of underage youth who were suffering from issues of gender orientation.  It should also be noted that gender-affirming treatment has the approval of the mainstream of the medical profession, though the governor of Texas likes to think it’s a cynical profit-driven racket of the pharmaceutical companies.

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