I started this week by reading up on the anti-LGBTQ+ bills moving through the legislature in Florida. Then things started snowballing here. I didn’t hear about the opinion Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton released calling medically necessary healthcare for transgender children child abuse until Tuesday. By that time Governor Abbott had issued a directive calling on the general public and mandatory reporters like teachers to report the affirming parents of transgender children to the Department of Family and Protective Services. What is a mandatory reporter? It is someone who interacts with children and must report suspected child abuse or risk criminal penalitites and losing their professional license. But AFFIRMING CARE is not child abuse and OPINION is not law. It is still legal in Texas to get affirming medical care for transgender children. Ken Paxton’s opinion and Governor Abbott’s directive have not changed anything. So mandatory reporters are not required to report affirming parents. Period. Of course, opinions and directives from adults in positions of power, embolden the bigots. And when Texas politicians are bullying trans children, the school bullies will feel free to do the same. It might be a political stunt, but it causes real harm to transgender children and their families.

So let’s put this into perspective. Neither Paxton or Abbott have changed the law. No court in the United States has ruled that gender-affirming care is child abuse. In Texas, there are laws to protect you from false reports of child abuse. But we know that these politically motivated attacks could result in some families being investigated. So what can you do? Advocacy groups here in Texas are recommending that parents of trans kids put together a “Safe Folder”. This folder is a place to keep records relating to your trans child.

A “Safe Folder” can contain anything that reinforces that you are a good parent to a transgender or gender expansive child. Start by including identity documents like their birth certificate (original and corrected) and any court orders you might have. Then you can add artwork or anything else created by your child that shows their gender identity. Photos that document their transition can be used to prove that over time, they have persisted in their gender identity. You can add report cards or teacher notes. You can also ask your child’s doctor or therapist for a letter confirming their gender identity. However, you will likely have to pay for an office visit in order to get a letter. You might consider asking coaches, teachers, the school counselor, neighbors, relatives, and other trusted adults to write character reference letters. These letters should include contact information for the person writing the letter, information about how they know you and your child, how long they have known you, and what they have observed. It takes time to get character references, so you can start by creating a list of the names of trusted adults and their contact information. If you are contacted by CPS, then you have the list ready to hand over. It will take time to pull all of this documentation together. Don’t stress. Just start working on it as you have time.

If you are feeling panicky about the situation here and in many states across our nation, please know that you are not alone. You can always reach out to your local Pride Center to see if they have parent meetings. You can also find a community of parents of LGBTQ+ kids by joining Facebook groups like Mama Dragons, Mama Bears, or Dragon Dads. There are also a lot of great allies fighting for trans rights. You can find them on social media. In Texas, I recommend following Equality Texas, Trans Education Network of Texas (TENT), ACLU-TX, and Lambda Legal. If you are contacted by CPS, call the ACLU or Lambda Legal for help. And keep in mind that according to the Public Religion Research Institute, 94% of Democrats, 85% of Independents, and 68% of Republicans in the United States support laws to protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination. You are NOT alone. If you need more information, please message me at admin@rainbowadvice.com and I will do my best to find answers to your questions.

Here are some more resources:

Parent Resource Guide– Texas Children’s Commission: Details what to expect from a CPS investigation.

Character Reference Letter Tips from Indeed: Obviously, you aren’t applying for a job, but this character reference example has some good tips.

Centerlink: The Community of LGBT Centers: Find your closest Pride Center.

Directive from Governor Abbott: Read exactly what Gov. Abbott wrote here.

Rainbow Advice

I'm the parent of LGBTQ+ children and I want to empower other parents to advocate for their children. If you can't find an answer on this site, please email me at admin@rainbowadvice.com. I will try to locate helpful resources for you.