In a strong statement Wednesday by President Joe Biden, Texas officials were "noticed" by the president. He called recent investigations into transgender youth's families "discriminatory actions", which "put children’s lives at risk," and put Texas officials on notice.
This statement was released along a list of actions that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services stated it would take to protect trans youth and families in Texas. It was the first time Biden addressed a directive from Gov. Greg Abbott calls for the public to report parents of trans minors who are receiving gender-affirming care.
The directive also directed the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate any such claims.
After the department opened an investigation into a staff member who is transgender, civil rights groups filed a lawsuit Tuesday. A judge temporarily halted the state investigation into this family on Wednesday night, hours before Biden made his statement. However, other similar investigations were not affected.
Abbott did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit or Biden’s statement. The Department of Family and Protective Services also declined to comment.
Biden described Abbott's directive as "government overreach and its worst" in his statement. He stated that his administration is notifying Texas that "their discriminatory actions" could endanger the lives of children.
He stated that these announcements show that child welfare agencies should expand access to gender-affirming care and support for transgender children, rather than using child protective services against loving family members.
He said that parents, children, and doctors should have the "freedom to make the best medical decisions for their young patients -- without interference from politicians."
He said that transgender children are a source of joy and fulfillment for their parents. Parents, teachers, and doctors can affirm a transgender child’s identity. It is one of the most important things they can do to keep their children safe. Parents who love and affirm their children must be praised and supported, not threatened or investigated.
U.S. Health Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a separate declaration Wednesday that the Texas government's actions were "discriminatory and unacceptable." He urged anyone who was subject to a child welfare investigation because of the directive by the governor to contact Health and Human Services' Office of Civil Rights. This office enforces civil rights laws to protect individuals from discrimination in health care.
He said that HHS would take immediate action if necessary. I know many young people and their families feel scared and isolated by these attacks. HHS closely monitors the Texas situation and will use all tools at its disposal to protect Texans.
Becerra's announcement stated that the department had released guidance for state child welfare agencies. This guidance "makes clear that states should utilize their child welfare systems in order to advance safety, support for LGBTQI+ young people, which can importantly include access to gender affirming health care" and guidance regarding patient privacy. His announcement also highlighted that denial of health care based upon gender identity and restricting the provision of such care by medical professionals are both illegal.
Parents of transgender Texas children have found relief from the Biden administration's announcement. They had complained that the governor's directive created fear and anxiety in their homes.
Some of them were also waiting for Biden's action. He spoke directly to transgender Americans during Tuesday's State of the Union address.
Linzy Foster, an Austin resident with a trans-daughter aged eight, stated that Biden's speech had "no teeth" after she gave it. She said that the president's comments were "no teeth", and that Texas families "need bold, decisive, and strong action."
Foster stated Thursday that Foster's statements supporting trans youth were not just lip service. He is actually walking the talk.
She said that she was able to sleep well last night because she knew that Texas could still pursue my family. However, that I can contact the Office of Civil Rights to report the situation and they will help and 'take immediate actions' helped her.