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For Immediate Release: Equality Texas and the Transgender Education Network of Texas Release Statement on the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Letter to Governor Abbott
Posted on August 11, 2021 at 5:28 pm


Contact: Ricardo Martinez | or Emmett Schelling | 


Austin, TexasAugust 11, 2021 – Equality Texas, the largest statewide organization solely dedicated to securing full equality for LGBTQ+ Texans, and The Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT), the largest statewide, BIPOC trans-led, trans-focused policy, education, and advocacy organization in the state of Texas, responded today to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) reply to Governor Greg Abbott’s loaded direction to investigate a healthcare practice that doesn’t exist, in his continued attempt to incite fear around vulnerable transgender children. 

Governor Abbott knows what gender-affirming healthcare is, and he knows that it saves lives, but he nonetheless directed a state agency to weigh in on something that he knows is not part of gender-affirming healthcare for transgender minors. The question posed by the Governor and the response from the agency were designed to placate a fringe minority of primary voters and reinforce the lies about healthcare for transgender Texans that are used to justify discriminatory legislation and harmful rhetoric. 

“Using inflammatory language to paint gender-affirming care as something it is not continues the strategy of fearmongering about the lives of transgender people, which fuels discrimination and dehumanization, further alienates kids who are already in crisis from an unprecedented level of cruel legislative attacks on LGBTQ+ people, and contributes to Texas remaining the leading state in the murders of Black transgender women. The language used in Gov. Abbott’s letter to Texas DFPS and in the DFPS response is offensive to our community and has nothing to do with the reality of life-saving affirming healthcare practices for transgender people, further illustrating that politicians and government appointees should focus on governing actual emergencies and not fictitious ones,” said Ricardo Martinez (he/him), Chief Executive Officer of Equality Texas.

The current best-practice healthcare approach for transgender children is a social transition which requires no medical intervention. For older adolescents and teens, the prevailing standards of care, best practices, and guidelines look nothing like the contents of these recent letters. They are, however, known to be life-saving and medically necessary, and are endorsed by every major medical association, including the World Professional Association of Transgender Health, the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Endocrine Society, the Pediatric Endocrine Society, and the National Association of Social Workers. This best practice care has been affirmed by state-level medical associations in multiple states where lawmakers have attempted to criminalize this care.

The more the Governor and other anti-LGBTQ+ politicians push false rhetoric for political ends, the more dangerous it is for kids and families to access actual lifesaving healthcare. This year, as politicians have made transgender children into political weapons, kids and their families have had to walk through crowds of angry adults, just to visit their pediatricians, keeping kids from accessing even basic healthcare. Families have been demonized, attacked, and insulted at the legislature, and had the privacy of their children invaded by adult politicians with no business in these families’ lives.

Every legislative year, opponents of equality present the public with a fabricated ‘emergency’ and misinformation related to LGBTQ+ people to create fear about our community. This year the Governor’s target is kids who are experiencing crisis and distress due to attacks from their state leaders.

“Children across Texas are currently at risk — not from gender affirming healthcare — but from dereliction of duty of a Governor and state agency that are sworn to protect them. The Governor’s office knew for months that foster children were being illegally housed in a shelter that had hundreds of citations for unsafe conditions — but his office failed to report the violation to court-appointed watchdogs that were monitoring the foster care system,” said Emmett Schelling (he/him), Executive Director of TENT. Involving DFPS in this non-issue will even further stretch a department that is chronically under-resourced in its duty to care for vulnerable children.

Governor Abbott also ordered state child-care regulators to pull licenses from 52 facilities across the state that house unaccompanied minors, leaving children who have crossed the southern border without their parents in unsafe environments while their asylum applications are reviewed.

Hundreds of Texans — including children — died in their own homes as the result of the winter freeze and disastrously unprepared grid.

And as COVID cases surge statewide, the Governor has abandoned his duty to protect school children from the pandemic. Children across Texas are suffering, but our governor and the agency whose job it is to protect them are focusing on the wrong issues.



Equality Texas is the largest statewide organization working to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Texans through political action, education, community organizing, and collaboration.

The Transgender Education Network of Texas is the largest statewide, BIPOC trans-led, trans-focused policy, education, and advocacy organization in the state of Texas.