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Texas Officials Want Teachers to Police Trans Students

Texas teachers are being threatened by the state if they fail to adequately police trans students.

According to new messaging from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to Governor Greg Abbott, teachers who suspect a student has accessed gender-affirming surgical care — an uncommon practice for trans children and teens — can be jailed if they don’t report the parents of those trans students to protective services.

Abbott set this process in motion on August 6, by sending a letter to DFPS asking if gender-reassignment surgery for children is child abuse — despite the established fact that most gender-affirming care for youth focuses on social transitioning and puberty blockers, not surgery. DFPS commissioner Jaime Masters’s reply referred to some gender-affirming surgeries as “genital mutilation.”

Masters’s letter categorized surgical care including orchiectomies, hysterectomies, and mastectomies as “child abuse,” and specified that a failure to report child abuse may be “punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000, or both.”

State Democratic lawmakers worry that this political tactic will further anti-trans discrimination. “This opens the door to any parent of a trans kid being accused of child abuse,” State Representative Erin Zwiener, a founding member of the Texas House LGBTQ Caucus, told the Texas Tribune.

As previously reported by Teen Vogue, more than 100 bills have been introduced this year across the country targeting the rights of transgender people, many focusing on trans youth and trans students. By March, 2021 was already a record year for transphobic policy, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

This year, the Texas state legislature considered dozens of anti-LGBTQ+ bills. These measures, which target things like school sports, are pushing some families out of the state. “If these laws were passed before I came out as transgender, I probably would not love myself and might not be alive,” eight-year-old Leon Rey told The Daily Beast. The Reys are moving from Texas to Maryland this summer in response to state Republicans’ relentless attacks on trans children in Texas schools and the transphobic environment they say it’s created.

A statement released by Equality Texas and the Transgender Education Network of Texas called the move by Abbott and Texas DFPS a “loaded direction to investigate a healthcare practice that doesn’t exist, in his continued attempt to incite fear around vulnerable transgender children.”

“Using inflammatory language to paint gender-affirming care as something it is not continues the strategy of fearmongering about the lives of transgender people, which fuels discrimination and dehumanization, further alienates kids who are already in crisis from an unprecedented level of cruel legislative attacks on LGBTQ+ people, and contributes to Texas remaining the leading state in the murders of Black transgender women,” said Equality Texas CEO Ricardo Martinez.

Want more from Teen Vogue? Check this out: Anti-Trans Laws Are Making Trans Youth Feel Unsafe

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