The State of Texas for Trans Youth and Families (And How You Can Cope or Help)

I’ve written a piece like this three times now.

Every time I wrote one, I hoped with everything in me it would be the last time. That the people attacking trans youth and their families for political gain would get bored, or would see that their actions were only met with resistance and scorn. I hoped that cis people would listen to the trans people raising the alarm that the legislation, the hate, the backlash against the very existence of trans people was getting worse and do something. I hoped that people would use the power of “thinking about things for even ten seconds” and realize that young trans people just living their lives wasn’t, isn’t, and never will be a threat to anyone or anything.

Silly me.

Greg Abbot, the governor of Texas, will likely sign a bill very soon banning all gender⁠ affirming care for minors in the state. This is the same governor who, last year, along with Attorney General Ken Paxton, issued an order telling CPS to investigate families for supporting their trans kids. That order, by the way, is still in effect, and the litigation brought against it so far has only been able to gain relief for the specific families and organizations involved in the case.

For that reason, I’m focusing this piece on Texas, although it’s far from the only state targeting trans youth, their care, and their families. But know that many of the provided resources can be of use if you live in another, hostile state.

Resources For Trans Youth and Their Families

I want to start this section by saying that Scarleteen is as a resource for you. If you need a space to vent or ask for support from a community that will always affirm who you are, our direct services are here for you.

To that reminder, I’ll add this: I, and many of the other people on our team, are more than ready to help you and your family find resources for whatever next steps you’re considering. Even if that’s just internet searching on your behalf so that you can have ten minutes where you don’t have to think about this whole mess.

We are also here if you need to brainstorm how to access care or get to safer place, including helping you coordinate whatever actions you need to take where possible. Maybe that’s how to stay as safe as you can while staying in a state and community you have every right to be a part of. Maybe that’s making the choice to take part in advocating against these policies. Maybe that’s figuring out⁠ if you have the option to move to a safe state or country. We’re not experts at everything by any means, but over the last twenty-five years we’ve gotten pretty dang good at helping people navigate tough situations, and we also know a lot of experts we can reach out to on your behalf.

You can also find support, information, and other resources in these places:

To any trans youth reading this, I know things are terrifying right now. I’m so sorry that the work advocates, activists, and educators have done, the work so many of you have done, hasn’t been enough to stem this tide of hate. It may even sound, from my introduction, like I’ve given up hope. I haven’t. Hope is a scrappy, resilient thing that feeds on anger and spite as much as it does joy, and the alternative is despair and giving up. So if you’re feeling hopeless, I want to leave you with something I wrote a few years back.

“There are futures full of vibrant, accepting, and loving freaks who see the weird, queer⁠ , or otherwise nonconforming parts of you and say, "Come on in." That's not to say those futures will be without struggle, because that's not how the world works. And it's not to say that the path between now and those futures won't involve some really awful days. My promise to you, from one freak to another, is that they're out there, and that you have within you the ability to make it to them.”

Some words (and resources) for everyone else




Have I made myself clear?

Some of you are already helping in some massive ways. If that’s you, keep up the good work. You probably don’t need to hear what I’m going to say next, but maybe someone in your life does and you can share this with them.

Trans people and their allies have been shouting for years about the sudden, aggressive⁠ shift towards anti-trans legislation and rhetoric. And a lot of people decided to ignore them, or said it would never get as bad as they were predicting. Well, it has, and as one person I spoke with put it, what’s happening in Texas isn’t the stopping point. It’s a harbinger of things to come.

So, if you haven’t been involved up until now, it is half-past do something’ o clock.

If I sound harsh, it’s because I’m tired, heartbroken, and angry that it ever got to this point. And I’m frustrated because everyone has some way in which they could help, and a lot of people are choosing not to. Which is why I want to give you some starting places.

If you haven’t yet done so, here is my ask to you: take ten or fifteen minutes and really think about what you can—and are prepared to—offer trans youth and their families as this situation gets worse. Do you have the money to donate to organizations on the front lines, whether that’s the people fighting to get these laws repealed or the ones giving emergency grants to families in hostile places? If you live on the border of a supportive state and a hostile one, are you willing to put your house or your car to use getting people where they need to go? Are you an attorney who can donate your time? Can you organize a bake sale or bingo night and donate to one of the many organizations I’ve mentioned here (or to the GoFundMes of families how need help)? Are you willing to be the person with a pro-trans t-shirt walking around town to remind any trans kids who see you that they’re not alone, and any bigots who see you that they don’t actually speak for everyone?

You’ll notice I don’t include “arguing with transphobes on the internet” in that list. Look, if you genuinely think all a specific person needs to stop being transphobic is some myth-busting, by all means give that a try. But if I’m being honest, a lot of people making transphobic comments aren’t going to be talked out of them, because they’re coming from a place of hate and fear, not logic, and they’re seldom arguing in good faith. And at this point, your energy is likely to be of far more use if directed at concrete ways of helping people than trying to win an argument.

Some More Ways to Help

If you work in children and family services, there is some federal guidance on how to use various provisions within policies to protect trans youth in states with anti-trans legislation. A word to my fellow social workers, particularly in Texas: you know that code of ethics we have? Removing a trans youth from a loving, safe, supportive home is in direct violation of that. Which is why the National Association of Social Workers condemned Abbots’ order and has resources on what to do if you’re a social worker confronted with the choice to follow an inhumane directive.

Above all, listen to trans people when they tell you what help they need.


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