April 13, 2022

Texas Republicans are stomping down hard on some of the most vulnerable people in the state: trans youth. While there is (sadly) much to cover when it comes to anti-trans legislation across the nation, Texas is in a somewhat unique circumstance when it comes to the supportive families of trans youth being investigated on grounds of child abuse.

As a review, we know that Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has directed state agencies to investigate families who support trans youth receiving gender-affirming, safe, and age-appropriate medical care. Abbott's direction is based on an opinion—which is an analysis of existing law—from Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton. Some families say they’ve already been investigated, but a handful of child welfare workers for Texas Child Protective Services (TCPS) told the Texas Tribune in an interview that they’ve already resigned or are actively looking for other work because they don’t want to bend their personal ethics and carry out dirty work on behalf of evil.

Most social workers who spoke to the Tribune did so anonymously for obvious reasons. It’s a deeply difficult choice, though. On the one hand, people don’t want to investigate into families and send the message to already vulnerable children that there is something potentially wrong with them or their home. On the other hand, by leaving these roles, others may come to fill their shoes, and they might not be as accepting or affirming. And for the workers, there’s also the reality that changing jobs is not an easy feat, especially not if you’re someone who lives with any number of marginalizations that could impact your hiring process. 

One worker, however, did speak to the Tribune on the record. Morgan Davis, an openly trans man, said he ultimately joined the agency to serve as an advocate for young people. He told the outlet that his supervisors, upon assigning him one of these cases, offered to reassign it, but Davis was conflicted. 

“If somebody was going to do it,” Davis told the outlet. “I’m glad it was me.” Davis went on to share that the person who reported the family in question didn’t even agree with the directive, but reported them because of their role as a mandated reporter. He visited once and reported that the family seemed loving and the home seemed safe and clean. He noted that he saw no evidence of abuse or neglect. But that doesn’t mean the family’s case is closed. 

As Davis explained to the Tribune, as well, the family’s lawyer didn’t see it as a potential comfort that a trans man would be doing the investigation, but rather that he condones it.

“It hit me like a thunderbolt,” Davis recalled, adding that by being there “for even a split second, a child could think they’ve done something wrong.”

Shortly after this, Davis resigned, and four other people in his unit have reportedly put in resignation notices, as well. They’re far braver than most Republicans in office will ever be, but it’s up to all of us to speak up in defense of trans youth.

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Republished with permission from Daily Kos.

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