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Students concerned about order targeting transgender youth

transgender youth

Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has released an order directing state health agencies to investigate instances in which gender-affirming treatments are being administered to transgender youth.

The letter, published on Tuesday, calls for the classification of such treatments as child abuse. It also demands professionals that work with children, such as teachers and nurses, to report youth suspected of undergoing gender transition to authorities.

The ACLU and others have claimed that the order is not legally enforceable, and a number of Texas attorneys have said they will not act in support of it if asked to.

“The governor is essentially asking an agency to enforce a non-binding opinion from the attorney general’s office,” said political science professor Brandon Rottinghaus. “To enforce it would require agency approval, compliance from local attorneys and the survival of forthcoming federal lawsuits.”

The announcement has caused a great deal of concern among some students at the University, noting fear that the order could be applied to them as well as concern for transgender youth. 

“I immediately got this sinking feeling,” said political science senior Leaf Morales. “I feared for myself, being trans, but I also couldn’t help but imagine how awful this must feel as a transgender child in today’s world.”

Morales explained feelings of shock and outrage were common to multiple transgender students he knows, with some even making plans to move out of the United States in the worst-case scenario.

Other students expressed a fear that the requirement to report parents for child abuse under the new definition could easily be misused.

“It’s so vague that it can be misused super easily,” said communication disorders junior Kaitie Tolman. “It could cost my dad his job if someone were to report him falsely.”

It remains to be seen if this order will be followed with legislation, and in the meantime, Morales recommended transgender students and youth concerned for their safety to stick together and hold strong.

“Find a community and stick with them,” Tolman said. “Stay close. We all need each other more than ever.”

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