RAC-TX Condemns Attacks on Transgender Youth

February 25, 2022Lee Winkelman and fredi Bleeker Franks

The Texas Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC-TX) unequivocally denounces the hateful and erroneous statements made by Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton this week, in which they define gender-affirming medical care as child abuse and punishable by law. This shameful attempt from Texas's highest-ranking political leaders to conflate life-saving medical treatments for transgender youth with child abuse is both exceedingly dangerous and entirely unethical. Imposing reporting requirements on licensed professionals who have contact with transgender youth is yet another call for vigilante-style assaults on minority communities in Texas.

As Reform Jews, we believe that everyone deserves equal treatment under the law, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. For centuries, Judaism has recognized and celebrated a diverse spectrum of sex and gender identities. Across Jewish legal codes and rabbinic commentary, there are hundreds of references to at least six different genders. Many of our texts proudly affirm the existence of transgender, non-binary, intersex, and genderfluid individuals. These identities, and those of the entire LGBTQ+ community, are valid.

Governor Abbott and Attorney General Paxton's statement will only exacerbate the existing mental health crisis among LGBTQ+ youth, who already face an elevated risk for depression, suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts compared to their non-LGBTQ+ peers. According to the Trevor Project, 42 percent of LGBTQ youth - including over half of transgender and nonbinary youth - seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. For transgender Children of Color, those numbers are even more troubling; Black transgender and nonbinary youth report disproportionate rates of suicide risk - with 59 percent seriously considering and 26 percent attempting suicide in the past year.

Governor Abbott and Attorney General Paxton's attempt to use a crusade against child abuse as a cover to deny life-saving gender-affirming medical care for transgender children is deeply disturbing and distressing. As leaders in Texas's Reform Jewish community, we demand that our public health agencies soundly reject the ignorant opinions of our state leaders in favor of the overwhelming support from medical professionals who support gender-affirming medical treatments. Rather than attacking transgender youth, Governor Abbott and Attorney General Paxton should focus on creating a society that is safe and inclusive for all people.

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