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More Texas families with transgender children plan to flee the state

Just a month ago, Katie, a Texas mother, had no plans to leave her home.

Even after Governor Greg Abbott urge Texans in February Katie – who has a 15-year-old transgender son and knows she could be investigated for cases of minors receiving gender-affirmed care – intend to stay and fight.

But things started to change for Katie when Texas Children’s Hospital announced last month that it would be suspending gender confirmation services for minors under directive. Her son lost access to his care for three weeks until a judge halted state investigations.

“It really shook me,” said Katie, who asked not to release her full name to protect her family’s privacy. “Things you never thought would happen are somehow reality, and I can’t live with uncertainty. It is eating us away. “

A spokesperson for Texas Children’s Hospital said in an email that the hospital “remains deeply committed to our transgender and gender-diverse patients” and will “continue to monitor ongoing legal proceedings.” out to determine the best course of action”.

Her son’s loss of his initial sexist care was a turning point for Katie and her family. Katie decided that after her son finished 10th grade this summer, the family would move to Denver.

Her son, N., told NBC News last month that things have been “terrible” since the governor’s directive. “It’s hard to stay in one piece and not break things,” he said.

Katie says that since the family decided to move, N. has been trying as best as possible to stay positive.

“But his heart was broken,” she said. “We are temporarily leaving Texas on our terms with the hope and prayer that in November we will return home and it will be a happy homecoming.”

Last month, NBC News spoke with dozens of parents of transgender children, as well as transgender youth, at Abbott’s direction. At the time, only one of those families planned to move. Now, three people, including Katie’s family, have said they are leaving the state.

The three families that are leaving said they did not make a decision overnight. But they have seen Texas officials become increasingly bold in targeting transgender people in recent years.

In 2015, the state began considering a “bathroom bill” that would ban transgender people from using public restrooms and schools consistent with their gender identity.

Since then, the Legislature has stepped up its efforts. Last year, it reviewed more than 50 bills targeting transgender people. Only one person got to Abbott for signatures: a bill that would ban transgender students from playing on school sports teams that match their gender identity.

But one of the other failed bills issued comments from State Attorney General Ken Paxtonwho declared on February 21 that sex-affirming medical care such as puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and surgery causes “irreparable harm” to minors and is child abuse under Texas law . Abbott followed his instructions to the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services the next day.

Paxton speak at the time, argued in his view that minors could not consent to sex-determined medical care.

He took several actions to defend and double his position. He appealed both orders issued by the judges: the narrow March 2 order halting one of the state investigations into a Child Protective Services employee and the statewide order issued issued on 11 March halted all investigations. One The court of appeals restored the order statewide and it stays in place.

Service Provider: Austin American-Statesman
Transgender youth, parents, and several Democratic lawmakers gathered at the Texas Capitol on April 28, 2021.Bob Daemmrich / USA Today Network

Paxton also filed request an investigation on March 24 against two drug companies, Endo Pharmaceuticals and AbbVie Inc., alleging that they advertised their products to treat gender dysphoria rather than medical conditions they had been approved to treat.

Efforts from Paxton, Abbott and the state Legislature have had widespread effects. Children’s Medical Center in Dallas removed all references to Genecis, program of sex-affirmed care for minors, from their website in November, and said the program would no longer be accepting new patients. Last month, 850 doctors, medical students and staff at two Dallas hospitals Sign a petition against the decision.

Paxton also tweeted about transgender people, even repeatedly misrepresenting Dr. Rachel Levine, the US assistant secretary of health and the first openly transgender federal official confirmed by the Senate, prompt Twitter to flag tweets.

It’s all adding up, and parents and LGBTQ advocates say they’re exhausted. Bishop Remington Johnsona Presbyterian clergy member and transgender advocate, said she spends her days texting the parents of transgender children in Texas and is unaware of any families that have not considered leaving. out of the state.

Even if advocates continue to defeat the anti-conversion bills, and even if the courts eventually rescind Abbott’s directive, they will leave a persistent “climate of terror,” she said. .

“This is why there are doctors who have stopped treating transgender children,” she said. “Not because there is a law, but because this is what bills cause terrorism. It is a book like bounty hunter style abortion billthe place that causes anxiety and fear to prevent something you don’t want from happening. “

She noted that Lieutenant General Dan Patrick Support has been signaled for an invoice similar to a recent one signed into law by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the Parents’ Rights in Education Act, prohibits discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in some classrooms. Critics of the bill have called it the “Don’t Say Gay and Transgender” bill.

“Texas is going to work to get over what Florida has gone through but make it worse,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be harsher, it’s going to be more extreme.”

K., another Austin mother of a 10-year-old transgender daughter testified against anti-transgender bills on Capitol Hill last year, when the Legislature held three special sessions to pass it. restrict transgender athletes. Once it’s over, she said, and other supporters plan to take some time off to recuperate and strategize for the next workout.

But then Paxton and Abbott published their letter in the first two months of the new year.

“Here we see that these two radical politicians have circumvented the legal process to implement these policies,” she said.

K., who also asked not to release her full name because of privacy concerns, said she realizes that although she and other parents and advocates “follow the rules” rule” and win, they still lose. “That makes me unsure that we’ll be protected even though our children don’t have sex-related medical care at this point,” she said. “And I can’t fight offensively when I’m already on the ground just trying to fend people off my baby.”

She plans to move her family to Oregon this summer.

Parents also expect that the next legislative session, which begins in 2023, will be worse than the last. That’s why Heather Crawford, an Austin mom with a 15-year-old transgender child, said she plans to move her family to Minnesota this summer.

“I have no confidence that it will stop,” she said. 15-year-old Cass, was born and raised in Texas, but “I can’t ask them to spend their final years of childhood in a state that wants to criminalize their existence.”

Cass, who uses the pronouns “he” and “they,” said the idea of ​​moving to a state that has some pro-LGBTQ legislation — and has the first to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in 1993 – was a huge relief. He said the efforts of Paxton and Abbott would put transgender people at risk. “It is said that people can stay away from transphobia for everyone in the community, including children,” he said.

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