Abbott, Paxton are harming our children, not protecting them

I recently received a phone call from a woman I’d never met. She was pretty upset about the “opinion” of our attorney general and our governor that affirming care for trans youth is child abuse.

Some perspective: She believes in smaller government and responsible spending. She has voted Republican for as long as she can remember. She has never really paid a lot of attention to “social issues” — until her child came out as non-binary.

She admitted to me that she had to look up that definition. That’s a start.

She is a loving, caring mom, who wants the best for her child. She is certainly not the picture of an abusive parent — unless you talk to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton or Gov. Greg Abbott.

The crocodile tears spilled by these two political opportunists under the guise of “protecting children” may fool some people, but we see through them. They have zero interest in protecting children. If they did, they would address the deplorable state of the foster care system in Texas or speak out about the children being separated from their parents at the border.

Their interest is solely in protecting their phony-baloney jobs and, maybe as a side benefit, devastating the families of people they hate along the way.

As things stand today, Lambda Legal and the ACLU have filed a lawsuit to stop CPS investigations of parents providing medically necessary care to their children. Most recently, the Texas 3rd Court of Appeals has upheld the injunction, preventing Texas from investigating these families, but Paxton has appealed to the Texas Supreme Court to have that injunction set aside and allow the DFPS investigations to continue as the lawsuit makes its way through the courts, leaving loving, supportive parents in a nightmare of limbo.

The terrifying thing that should be in the mind of every parent is that this can happen to you as well.

I also fear for our licensed professionals — therapists, lawyers and doctors and other “mandatory reporters” — communication with them is generally protected and confidential, but not when it comes to child abuse. They have a “duty to report” within 48 hours if they suspect “child abuse.” So, if you are a therapist working with a child suffering with gender dysphoria and is aware that the child is receiving affirming, medically necessary care that the state deems “child abuse,” do you report this to Texas DFPS and lose a client (they will never trust you again) and potentially your practice (word gets around) and also ruin a family, possibly having that child separated from their parents? Or do you keep your mouth shut and risk losing your license for failure to report?

The state of Texas is putting you in an untenable position from which no good can come.

If this “opinion” becomes law, the cost will be measured in lives. It is an undisputed fact: Access to gender affirming services cuts the odds of severe depression and even suicide among transgender youth. Providing this medically necessary care IS NOT child abuse. But denying them that care IS.

In March, Utah’s republican governor, Spencer Cox, vetoed a bill that would have prohibited transgender girls from participating in sports, citing the appalling and tragic suicide rate among transgender youth. Cox said, “I want them to live.” (Sadly, the Utah legislature didn’t share his concern and over-rode his veto.)

Of 75,000 kids playing sports in Utah, only four are transgender, and only ONE was involved in girls’ sports.

If only our own governor had such compassion and wisdom.

Abbott isn’t trying to make the lives of ordinary Texans better; he is instead working overtime to make the lives of those that he hates worse.

As of March of this year, 15 states have restricted access to gender affirming care or are currently considering laws that would do-so. Missouri and Texas are two states who are calling this medically necessary care “child abuse.” The Williams Institute estimates the number of youth at risk of losing access to care in these states at 58,200.

In my mind, it’s a criminal act for the state to act in a way that serves no legitimate state interest while endangering the health and very lives of some of our most vulnerable youth.

Greg Abbott, is putting every Texan in the position of having to report knowledge of a child’s medically necessary care, should they become aware of it, and potentially destroying a family and devastating the life of a child — all so you can pander to your base during primary season really worth it? You apparently trust parents to decide which library books should be in a school library and which school to attend, so how about you butt out of the medical decisions?

In fact, Governor, if you really want to do something about saving the lives of children, how about doing something about gun violence? In Dallas recently this past week, 10 kids age 15-21 were shot at a spring break party. So far, an 18-year-old has died. On Monday morning, March 28, a child died after being shot in a separate incident. And we haven’t heard a word from you.

Maybe you hadn’t heard about any of that. I mean, you and Paxton have been so busy filing appeals to interfere in the healthcare needs of people who don’t need your hate-fueled brand of “help,” you probably completely missed these actual atrocities harming children.

Leslie McMurray is transgender education and advocacy associate at Resource Center in Dallas. She is also a regular columnist for Dallas Voice. Read more of her blogs at