APsaA Statement Condemning Texas Governor’s Attacks on Trans Children and Their Families

March 4, 2022

The American Psychoanalytic Association, the nation’s oldest and largest psychoanalytic organization, is concerned by the escalating and frightening attacks against trans children--some of our nation’s most vulnerable young people—and their families.

The most recent concern comes from Texas where the Governor has directed “licensed professionals” and “members of the general public” to report parents of transgender minor children to the Department of Family and Protective Services which would lead to an “investigation” of child abuse. We condemn this deployment of social workers to “investigate” the families who provide medically necessary treatment for children with gender dysphoria.

The attempt in Texas to classify the professional treatment of trans children as "child abuse" is one of many political attacks on gender expansive children. Bills about bathrooms, sports, and the most recent “don’t say gay” bill in Florida are a part of a wave of hysteria triggered by a changing definition of gender in recent years.

Sadly, these emotional responses cloud our ability to listen to children and determine what is truly in their best interest. The question about how to support a child experiencing gender dysphoria is complicated, and deserves great care, especially when considering medical interventions. Social, emotional, and physical costs and benefits all need to be carefully weighed. But language about “mutilation” and “child abuse,” used to justify the state regulation of these children, rather than leaving their treatment in the hands of parents and professionals, seems to speak more to the anxiety of the unknown than it does to what kind of care and support they really need. 

Lack of knowledge about these children and adolescents can raise anxiety, not only in the families, but among neighbors, communities, professional organizations and political bodies. Attempts to simplify a complex subject by referring to therapeutic treatment of these children as “child abuse,” might make some people feel less anxious, but is way off the mark—hurting these children and their families.

As mental health and medical professionals, we call upon the state of Texas to learn about the science around gender affirming care and support transgender youth and their families. Politicians with no training or experience in medicine, science, or social work, should not use the power of their office to legislate professional care of gender dysphoric children and their families—and to compromise the clinical autonomy of the social workers who are child service professionals.

We support The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Texas and Lambda Legal who have filed a lawsuit seeking to block this initiative from continuing. APsaA adds our voice to the chorus of medical professionals and clinicians at the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American College of Physicians, American Osteopathic Association, and the American Psychiatric Association, who oppose this policy.  We offer our solidarity to trans children and their families in Texas and beyond.

We join in the call for Governor Abbott and the state of Texas to cease this latest set of escalating attacks on the trans community and their kin.