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Texas Governor's New Assault On Transgender Minors And Their Families

Position Statement

Released March 14, 2022

The Diversity and Social Action Committee, in collaboration with our Child & Adolescent Subcommittee, have prepared the following statement in response to the disturbing actions from political leaders in Texas confronting trans and queer youth, their families, and providers of gender affirming care. While we are gratified by the most recent court case stalling any further enforcement of this political spectacle, the risks loom. Please share our statement with your colleagues and join us in our efforts to resist the politicization of anxiety about otherness.

As members of The American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work (AAPCSW), we are deeply concerned and troubled by the mounting assaults and marginalization of trans children and their families. The most recent attack came from the Texas Attorney General's non-binding legal opinion (2/18/22) and Governor Abbott's subsequent letter (2/22/22), which directs professionals and members of the general public to report parents to the Commissioner of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), who would then be obligated to investigate reports of gender affirming care by families of transgender children as child abuse. We believe this directive poses astonishing disregard for the selfhood of trans youth and negates their families' right to provide care and support for their children. We strongly condemn this strategic weaponizing of transgender youth in the current broader culture war and political arena. We believe that it constitutes a grave detrimental assault on transgender children and their families and must be named.

In our practices as psychoanalytic clinical social workers we provide care for transgender minors and their families at every developmental stage of gender identity process. We have long understood the importance of the person in environment and the environment in the person. We are also intimately familiar with the results of prejudice, injustice, marginalization, and discriminatory attacks on different groups in the society, that are born from fear, misunderstanding, and misperceptions. Furthermore, while we are aware that concerns for children's development are real and we acknowledge that there are good-faith debates in the field about treatment approaches and theories of gender and sexuality, it is unfair to make children the proxies for social anxieties. As clinical social workers, we know that when efforts like the Texas directive enter the collective discourse, they not only damage and exacerbate ongoing challenges for transgender individuals, but the public repetition of such toxic messaging also contributes to the wide-spread anxieties and delusions that become part of a broader panic surrounding trans youth. This was evident in North Carolina's failed bathroom bill, as well as the many bills moving through state legislatures that aim to prevent trans youth from participating in competitive sports. Most recently, the don't say gay bill in Florida is another example of the heightened anxieties and misconceptions pertaining to gender fluidity and gender expansion.

Fostering an atmosphere of trust, open discourse, advocacy, and safety are among our core professional values in working with all populations. Mindful of the fact that we do not have all the answers to questions about the complexities of human functioning in health and illness, gender-affirming care, based on established scientific research and the clinical expertise of interdisciplinary professionals provides needed support for transgender youth in psychic pain. It is in this spirit that we vigorously object to anything that will have a chilling effect on the ability of children and their parents to access appropriate and available services without fear of exposure to various dignity violations and trauma. We therefore call on Governor Abbott to rescind his directive along with the Texas Attorney General's non-binding legal opinion. We offer our support and stand in solidarity with Texas social workers in their continuing opposition to the Governor's new assault on their professional ethics, clinical autonomy, and personal integrity. We add our voices to the growing chorus of health, mental health, and advocacy organizations who have expressed their outrage and commitment to actions that seek to right this wrong.