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03/03/2022 HopeWell condemns Texas treatment of transgender youth; calls on child welfare professionals to affirm the dignity of trans children

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered the Texas Department of Children and Family Services to investigate parents who seek standard-of-care medical treatment for their transgender children. In a directive based on a 13-page propaganda-filled memo by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Abbott claims that such medical care constitutes “child abuse” and requested that the state’s Department of Children and Family Services “conduct a prompt and thorough investigation of any reported instances” of parents authorizing such care for their children. In response, the agency opened an investigation into one of its employees who has a transgender daughter and placed the employee on administrative leave. 

“This order by the Texas governor is an act of child abuse in and of itself. The idea that a child welfare agency would investigate loving parents working to ensure that their children receive medically necessary health care treatment is unconscionable,” said HopeWell President and CEO Shaheer Mustafa. “Such action violates every principle and code of ethics that govern the work of child welfare professionals.” 

The Texas Attorney General’s memo consists of misinformation and propaganda about medical treatment of transgender children and adolescents that has been publicly denounced and rejected by every major medical association including The American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the Endocrine Society, and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health

“Transgender and gender diverse children and adolescents face challenges that put them at greater risk for contact with the child welfare and foster care systems, such as an elevated risk for suicide related to bullying, family and community rejection, and discrimination,” said Julie Segovia, HopeWell Vice President, Research, Policy, & Learning. “As this situation in Texas demonstrates, LGBTQIA+ youth, especially transgender youth, often face maltreatment in the very system tasked with protecting them.” 

A report released last summer by the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth found systemic failures to keep LGTBQIA+ youth, especially gender diverse youth, safe. It also found that caregivers routinely invalidated the LGBTQIA+ and gender identities of youth in care.  

In response to this deeply disturbing news out of Texas, and the on-going issues around keeping transgender children and adolescents in all child welfare systems safe,  HopeWell has sent a note to its staff, foster families, and affiliated caregivers affirming HopeWell’s commitment to enrich the lives and expand the opportunities of individuals and families in need of love, support, and safe places to grow and thrive and HopeWell’s explicit inclusion of transgender and gender diverse children, adolescents and adults in this work. 

“I hope that other human service providers and leaders in this arena will do the same,” Mustafa added. “This is not the time to be silent. Transgender youth are listening. They need to know that we care, they matter, and what’s happening in Texas is wrong.” 

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