Friday, March 18, 2022

Texas Judge: Transgender Care is Not Child Abuse

By Co-Editor Prof. Justine Dunlap Dunlap

About 34 states have introduced legislation that in some way restricts transgender youth from receiving appropriate health care. These legislative acts, if moved forward into laws, will kill people. They could result in death even short of becoming law. Trans youth have rates of depression and suicide that are 2-3 times higher than non-transgender youth. That is data prior to the pandemic, which has wreaked havoc on the mental health of youth across the board. Thus, living in a state that criminalizes the ability to access appropriate health care could have catastrophic impact on the lives of transgender youth. That’s first level heinousness.

Then there are the effects on those targeted by these bills. The bills may require that parents and health care providers be reported and investigated as child abusers. Parents and health care providers deserve praise not prosecution. Criminalizing them is also first level heinousness.

Most of the bills have not (yet) moved out of the legislature to become law. That’s what happened in Texas last spring, when the Texas legislature did not pass a bill illegalizing transgender care. Governor Greg Abbott, however, was not deterred. Last month he sent a letter to the state Department of Family and Protective Services instructing it to investigate as child abuse the act of providing or securing gender appropriate care.

Thank goodness, then, for Judge Amy Clark Meachum, a Texas state court judge who, on March 11, temporarily enjoined enforcement of this gubernatorial mandate. Judge Meachum enjoined this directive because, she opined, there is a substantial likelihood that it is ultra vires and unconstitutional. Also enjoined are the rules made and implemented by the Department of Family and Protective Services pursuant to Abbott’s directive.

Shortly after the ruling, the Texas attorney general asserted that the investigations would continue because he would appeal the decision.  The trial on the merits is set for July 11, 2022, but much legal wrangling seems inevitable before then. Lawyers and judges are used to such squabbles so the real fallout will be experienced by the transgender youth whose lives and very worth are being litigated.

Justine Dunlap, Transgender | Permalink


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