Growing up as a queer person in one of the most conservative parts of Texas was hard. I couldn’t come out to my parents out of fear that I would be kicked out of my home. I had no adults to tell me that I wasn’t broken or wrong and that I deserved the same love that my straight peers did. I’m still afraid to exist in public as a transgender person.
The attorney general of Texas, Ken Paxton, issued an opinion that providing gender affirming healthcare to minors is child abuse on Feb. 21. The governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, ordered state agencies to investigate gender-affirming care to transgender minors as child abuse on Feb. 22.
Texas and other conservative states often try to pass anti-queer legislation under the guise of ‘protecting the children,’ but what about queer children? No medical professional recommends any gender-affirming surgery for minors, so they clearly aren’t protecting children from surgeries they might regret later.
Governor Abbott has chosen to spread fear and misinformation in exchange for popularity. Of course, Texas is no stranger to making living as a queer person in the state difficult.
Texas does not have any statewide laws prohibiting discrimination toward queer people. It is also one of four states with laws that ban instruction on queer topics in public schools.
One law says that all course materials related to sexual education must emphasize that from a public health perspective “homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense.” In November 2020, the Texas State Board of Education revised sex education policies to include information on birth control starting in 2022, but the board didn’t add anything about consent or queer identities. The board did not take an opportunity to strike down the anti-queer policies.
They also voted against a proposal to teach middle school students about bullying and sexual harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity, instead voting to teach students about “sexual bullying,” which was not clearly defined.
Pat Hardy, a Republican member of the state board of education, said “When it happens, you know it when you see it.”
Other states have introduced legislation that would ban conversations about queer identities in classrooms. Lawmakers probably never see or care about the real effect of anti-queer legislation on queer communities, but they are very real. Transgender people in the United States are four times as likely as cisgender people to be the victim of violent crime,
according to the ACLU. One in two trans people will experience sexual violence, according to the Office for Victims of Crime.
By keeping anti-queer laws on the books, and persecuting parents who try to help their children by giving them gender-affirming care, Texas is telling queer people that they should not feel feel respected or loved or safe in Texas.