“My children love being Texans”: A father of a trans teen weighs whether his family can stay

“gender-affirming care — especially the varieties that are usually used in children, such as puberty blockers — are validated and accepted by pretty much every child medical society in the US and the world. Lots of scientific studies have validated the value of gender-affirming care for children and, of course, adults.”

“The governor’s order kind of caught us off guard. If this continues and this gets enforced more broadly, I think we are going to have to leave, and that sucks because we’ve lived here for almost two decades. We love living in Houston. We’ve been pretty happy here. But we are going to do what’s right for our family and obviously we cannot stay here with the state threatening to take away our children, who we love very much and we’re just trying to support their gender identity. It’s a shitshow, what can I say?”

The time to panic about anti-trans legislation is now

“In recent weeks, as Republican politicians in several states have introduced increasingly draconian measures designed to crack down on the lives and well-being of trans teenagers”

“A bill in Idaho, currently being considered by the state Senate after being passed out of the House, perhaps goes furthest in this regard. That bill would make providing medical care to trans youths a felony, punishable with up to life in prison. It would also effectively trap families of trans children in Idaho by forbidding them to travel elsewhere for treatment.”

” exas Gov. Greg Abbott directed that state’s Department of Family and Protective Services to open child abuse investigations into parents who pursue gender-affirming health care for their trans children. A judge issued an injunction against the directive being carried out, but a tweet from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton suggested that the state will ignore the injunction and continue investigations into families of trans children.”

“There is a reason every major American medical body recommends giving trans children the chance to transition. (Here’s an article from the American Medical Association’s Journal of Ethics making this argument 11 years ago.) Children first transition socially — with changes to their clothing, haircut, and name. Then, with a physician’s guidance, they can block the onset of puberty in early adolescence, and finally start hormone treatment in later adolescence.
This method works. We have records of trans children receiving hormone treatment as long ago as the 1930s. With this approach, trans kids can largely live lives that are indistinguishable from those of cis kids.”

“It’s worth repeating some other basic facts: Affirming trans children’s genders reduces their risk of attempting suicide; the use of puberty blockers in trans kids is safe; children are having bottom surgery only in exceptionally rare cases; and almost every element of trans health care we have was originally developed for cisgender people. (Cis children with precocious puberty have been using blockers for decades!)”

Lia Thomas Swims to Victory Under NCAA’s Controversial Standards for Trans Competitors

“Broader legal and social acceptance for trans people has been a force for good, allowing them to live freely and authentically. And Thomas has been brave in the face of significant vitriol for competing in a sport where the ruling body has declared her eligible. But unlike areas such as respectful pronoun use, availability of gender-neutral bathrooms, and recognition of transition on legal documents, sports at the elite level are zero-sum. Thomas’ success is causing a crisis of confidence in women’s sports, which have long been a source of pride for elite female athletes despite the fact that they knew they couldn’t compete on equal footing with men.”

“”It is a pathetic and misguided state that any argument against Thomas’ participation is immediately deemed to be an indication of transphobia.” By protecting one athlete out of fear of backlash, many other athletes have been denied a real shot at the top spot on the podium. There are roughly 15,000 female collegiate swimmers in the U.S., but only 1.8 percent of them even qualify for the elite NCAA Division I championships, let alone compete in the finals (limited to 8 lanes) or stand on the winner’s podium (top 3 performers).”

“”We didn’t create separate leagues to reinforce the special feminine identity of female athletes; if anything, women’s athletics was supposed to break down such divisions. The separation is a nod to biology.” The very existence of women’s sports is tied to the fact that, by biological design, women cannot hold their own while competing with men. By separating female athletes from their male counterparts, women had the chance to display their own extraordinary talent on a more even playing field (or swimming pool).”

Texas Classifies Medical Treatment of Trans Minors as Abuse, Threatens Parents, Orders Caregivers To Snitch

“Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton has declared all medical treatment of transgender minors to be child abuse and says that his office could prosecute parents of transgender children, as well as “mandatory reporters” who fail to report medical treatment of transgender children to the state. In tandem, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has urged state officials to begin investigating any families that may be giving their trans kids puberty-blocking drugs or hormones, or allowing them to undergo surgical treatments.”

“Paxton’s argues that helping a child transition can cause them physical and psychological damage and that it deprives the child of the “right to procreation.” Essentially, Paxton is borrowing from the argument against forced sterilization, which he references, as an argument against voluntary trans medical treatment.
However, no one believes that any child—or adult—should be exposed to these treatments against their own wishes. To the extent that minors in Texas are receiving medical treatment for trans issues, it is likely because they requested it. Meanwhile, physicians in the U.S. are largely aligned behind the idea that sex reassignment surgery should not take place until a patient is 18.

But Paxton’s policy announcement is not meant to prevent surgeries that mostly are not happening. He’s also going after the use of puberty-blocking drugs and hormone treatments, which do begin when transgender patients are still minors, and the effects are more easily reversed. Drug therapy is not equivalent to surgery, and it appears Paxton has lumped them together in order to confuse the issue and undermine the legitimacy of any kind of transgender health care.”

“What about the rights of patients? And of parents? Paxton’s memo argues that the Texas “Legislature has not provided any avenue for parental consent, and no judicial avenue exists for the child to proceed with these procedures and treatments without parental consent.”

Apparently, it’s impossible to consent to your child receiving medical care without the Texas Legislature passing a new law. That’s an interesting version of conservatism.”

Texas Sued As State Starts Investigating Parents of Trans Children for ‘Child Abuse’

“Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, responding to a memo from Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton, ordered the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to launch these investigations. Paxton argued in his memo that any sort of medical treatment of a trans minor constituted child abuse because some treatments may interfere with the child’s ability to reproduce.

However, this threat didn’t just cover gender reassignment surgery—something that normally doesn’t happen to minors anyway—but also hormonal treatments that block the impacts of puberty on a trans teen—something that doesn’t sterilize them and is reversible. The order also came with a massive threat to any government official or health worker inclined to look the other way: They could also be prosecuted if they knew a parent was pursuing medical treatment for a trans child and did not report them to the authorities.

While this might have looked like the latest loudmouthed culture war fight—the memo doesn’t change the state’s statutory definition of child abuse—the Texas DFPS has begun investigating parents of trans kids. The first target was one of their own. The New York Times reports that the DFPS put one of its own staff members on leave as the agency investigates her over the medical treatment her 16-year-old trans daughter is receiving. The agency has attempted to demand the mother (who is not identified) provide the teen’s medical records. She’s refusing, and now with the ACLU’s help, she’s suing to attempt to stop both the investigation and enforcement of Abbott’s order.”

“Critics of helping minors transition say parents are rushing into major decisions without a full understanding of the risks. Whether that’s true, the solution is not to put politicians and the government in control of what constitutes legitimate medical treatment.”

“throwing the parents of trans teens under the bus is a big political winner, according to Abbott’s political strategist. Don’t trust politicians in general, but especially don’t trust politicians who only believe in certain parents’ rights and not others.”

Texas Classifies Medical Treatment of Trans Minors as Abuse, Threatens Parents, Orders Caregivers To Snitch

“Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton has declared all medical treatment of transgender minors to be child abuse and says that his office could prosecute parents of transgender children, as well as “mandatory reporters” who fail to report medical treatment of transgender children to the state. In tandem, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has urged state officials to begin investigating any families that may be giving their trans kids puberty-blocking drugs or hormones, or allowing them to undergo surgical treatments.”

“This, apparently, is not just a friendly suggestion from the state’s attorney general. On Tuesday Gov. Abbott sent a memo to the commissioners of the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services summarizing Paxton’s memo and ordering the agency to investigate any parents found providing transgender medical care to their children. He threatens criminal penalties for anybody who fails to report it to the government.
What about the rights of patients? And of parents? Paxton’s memo argues that the Texas “Legislature has not provided any avenue for parental consent, and no judicial avenue exists for the child to proceed with these procedures and treatments without parental consent.”

Apparently, it’s impossible to consent to your child receiving medical care without the Texas Legislature passing a new law. That’s an interesting version of conservatism.”

What Dave Chappelle gets wrong about trans people and comedy

“Toward the end of Dave Chappelle’s incendiary Netflix standup special The Closer, he says something revealing about the fight he’s waged against trans people — a fight that’s drawn Netflix itself into the fray and which led to a walkout and protest against the company on October 20.

After discussing the death of his friend, a trans comedian named Daphne Dorman who Chappelle also mentioned in his previous special Sticks and Stones, Chappelle makes a joke where the punchline is to blatantly misgender her. Then he says, “As hard as it is to hear a joke like that, I’m telling you right now — Daphne would have loved that joke.”

As I’ve attempted to grapple with the aims of Chappelle’s comedy, this line has stuck with me. Chappelle’s use of Dorman as a kind of totem for the type of relationship he’d like to have with the trans community at large is both telling and confusing — not because of what it says about Chappelle and Dorman, but because of what it says about the nature of comedy and the nature of pain.

Trans people have expressed outrage at both Chappelle and Netflix for amplifying overtly transphobic and anti-scientific views about gender and trans identity. In his defense of Chappelle, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos first said that he didn’t believe The Closer could cause any real-world harm, and then, after recanting that statement, said that trans people would simply have to deal with the special being on the platform. What we wind up with, then, is this: Yes, The Closer could cause real-world harm, but trans people will just have to get over it.

So perhaps the real question is, should trans people have to get over it? “Yes” seems to be the answer from The Closer, more or less. There’s no getting around the reality that transphobic rhetoric like Chappelle’s absolutely contributes to real-life harm. But Chappelle seems to view that hurt, and even the immediate pain of his transphobic jokes, as a worthy trade-off.”

“in the moment where he comes closest to accepting trans identity, again using his friend Daphne as his lodestar, it’s the semantic argument that makes the crucial difference for Chappelle. Praising Dorman for her skills as a comedian and her good-natured attitude, he recalls Dorman telling him, “I don’t need you to understand me. I just need you to believe that I’m having a human experience.” Then he points out that he accepted her explicitly “because she didn’t say anything about pronouns” or make him feel like he was about to be “in trouble” for saying something wrong.

On one level, Chappelle’s anxiety here is deeply relatable. It’s the anxiety felt by many people who are frustrated by cancel culture and what they perceive as its policing of language and free speech. No one likes to be yelled at or told they’re problematic, especially if they say the “wrong” thing when they’re trying to get clarity on complex situations. Much of the conversation around “canceling” and the reactionary politics it engenders — reactionary politics that include all of Chappelle’s recent comedy material — seems to demand a degree of patience with people who are still working out the basic issues surrounding complicated identity vectors. Often, thinking about these things is hard.

But Chappelle makes it clear that he needs Dorman to exist on his terms, not hers — not as a trans woman with autonomy, but as a trans woman who’s proven she deserves autonomy by way of having a chill, laid-back sense of humor. Furthermore, in repeatedly reducing Dorman’s existence to her body parts and her relationship to them and the language surrounding them, Chappelle dehumanizes her and dehumanizes other trans people.

Dorman’s fate — she died by suicide shortly after the release of Sticks and Stones in 2019 — directly undermines Chappelle’s logic. Because Dorman was trans, she was at an extremely high risk of dying by suicide or transphobic violence. Any way you look at it, trans people are among the most vulnerable populations in society:

Out of all hate crimes that result in homicide that target LGBTQ and HIV-affected people, 72 percent of the victims are trans women, according to 2013 data.
50 percent of trans people will experience sexual assault or abuse in their lifetimes; this number is even higher for Black trans people.
54 percent of trans people experience intimate partner violence.
Trans people of color are six times more likely to experience police brutality than white cisgender people.
10 percent of trans people experience violence from a family member after coming out as trans. Eight percent of trans people are kicked out of their homes after coming out.
30 percent of trans people experience homelessness at least once in their lives.
In 2015, 30 percent of trans people reported experiencing workplace harassment, including sexual assault, physical harassment, or being fired for their gender expression.
More than 50 percent of trans teens seriously considered suicide in the last year; more than 66 percent of trans teens experienced major symptoms of depression within the two weeks prior to the survey.”

“His comedy, which involves continually insisting, against science, that gender is always tied to biology, isn’t just reactionary semantics. It’s dangerous rhetoric that’s been shown in study after study can directly impact the levels of anti-trans violence and societal prejudice that trans people already face daily.”

“Dorman herself was adept at taking an offensive joke. As Chappelle recalls, when an audience member interrupted one of Dorman’s shows with a transphobic question, she shot back by making an even better joke about her own anatomy. This, Chappelle wants us all to know, should be the response when we’re confronted with transphobia: not anger, hurt, or pain; not a walkout in protest of Netflix, but good-humored deflection.
This rule applies, at best, within the realm of comedy, between a comedian and their audience, not to the lived experiences of people in their everyday lives. Chappelle seems to need all trans people to accept the mores of his own very specific professional subculture, and he makes this request sound reasonable — he’s just a guy wanting to be allowed to make transphobic jokes without getting canceled for it, geez — but in practice, it’s baffling. Most people aren’t comedians, and most people are sensitive to jokes designed specifically to hurt them. Chappelle’s idea that trans people should have to prove, like Dorman, that they can take a joke without getting offended before they’re worthy of respect is a bit like a journalist demanding trans people prove they can use AP style before allowing them to command a conversation about their own gender identity.”

“Chappelle, of all people, should know better. He’s hyper-aware, as a comedian who frequently uses humor to make points about racial and social justice, that comedy impacts the real world. In fact, in 2005, Chappelle completely killed his own hit comedy show, the legendary Chappelle’s Show, because of one joke that made him realize, according to an interview he gave to Time, that rather than critiquing racist comedy, he might instead be reinforcing racist stereotypes for white audiences who were enjoying the joke unironically.

At the very least, then, Chappelle should know that there’s a possibility his jokes about trans people could be taken the wrong way and used to hurt trans people. There’s even an echo of the 2005 moment in the new special, when Chappelle has to stop and gently reprimand an audience member who starts to applaud a transphobic law. As Vulture’s Craig Jenkins put it, “You talk enough shit, and you’ll draw flies.”

Rather than acknowledging this possibility and its potential for harm, Chappelle not only justifies his comedy using white privilege, but seems to go a step further: He suggests that being hurt is good for trans and nonbinary people. When he says, “As hard as it is to hear a joke like that,” and then follows it up with any kind of defense, he’s telling audiences that he knows the joke is painful, hurtful, and transphobic — but that it’s somehow productive for trans people to be confronted by it. That it’s a learning experience to be confronted with transphobia onstage, as though trans people aren’t confronted with gender policing in every other moment of their lives.

Only then, in Chappelle’s telling, can Chappelle and trans people “[start] getting to the bottom of shit.” Once trans people have shown him that they’re capable of being good-humored about other people’s continual objectification and degrading dismissal of transgender identity issues, they can — on the terms of the person using transphobia to interact with them — be heard and accepted and loved.”