More than 60 major corporations have signed an open letter calling on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to retract comments he made late last month comparing gender-affirming care for transgender or nonbinary youth to “child abuse,” as well as an order for state agencies to investigate reports of such care.
In an open letter published in the Dallas Morning News on Friday, companies such as Apple and Google demanded that Abbott and other conservative leaders “abandon efforts to write discrimination into law and policy.”
“The recent attempt in the state of Texas to criminalize a parent for assisting their transgender child in accessing medically necessary, age appropriate healthcare goes against the values of our companies,” the letter states. “This policy instills fear in employees and their families, particularly those with transgender children, who may now be forced to choose between providing the best medical care for their children and risking having those children removed by child protective services as a result.”
In response to a February opinion issued by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Abbott issued a directive to state agencies to investigate reports of minors receiving gender-affirming care as child abuse, threatening those who fail to report with “criminal penalties.”
The White House has condemned both Paxton’s and Abbott’s statements, and a number of Texas district attorneys have already stated that they will not prosecute the families of transgender or nonbinary youth.
However, the order has had an impact on the state’s trans and nonbinary communities, and Texas Children’s Hospital, the nation’s largest pediatric hospital, paused gender-affirming treatments this week to “protect” its staff and patient families as a result of Abbott’s order.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas and Lambda Legal have also filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) employee whose 16-year-old daughter is transgender. In that case, a temporary restraining order was granted, which was later overturned, to prevent the state from investigating the teen’s parents.
Paxton announced this week that he would sue the Biden administration after the Health and Human Services Department issued federal protections for gender-affirming care for minors.
The Human Rights Campaign, which organized the open letter, called Abbott’s actions “hateful” and “harmful” to children in a statement released on Friday.
“There is no other way to put it: this is a scary time for Texas families. Texas lawmakers are forcing parents of transgender children to choose between abandoning their lives, quitting their jobs, and leaving the state, or creating a safe, inclusive environment for their child “Interim HRC President Joni Madison stated. “These companies are aware of the unfair ultimatum and are advocating for their LGBTQ+ employees, customers, and families.”
“The Human Rights Campaign is grateful to these companies for their support of transgender youth as we hold Governor Abbott and extremist politicians who are attacking trans kids across the country accountable,” she added. Earlier this month, the HRC organized another open letter in which thousands of parents condemned legislation targeting LGBTQ+ youth across the country.
Wes Cowan, leader of Out Youth’s Trans Wellness program, said the anxiety stemming from all this brings him back to when he was afraid to come out as transgender — when he couldn’t find the words to describe how he felt. It’s not just young trans and nonbinary children and their families who are affected by this, Cowan stressed. It’s the entire community.