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Parents, advocates concerned about Abbott's directive calling transgender care 'child abuse'

“It’s certainly not just us as parents making random decisions for our child, deciding, 'Hey I’m going to do this.' Everything is really thoughtful, intentional.”

HOUSTON — The Harris County District Attorney is joining a growing list of Texas prosecutors who are refusing to enforce any part of Governor Greg Abbott’s directive which targets trans youth.

Abbott is calling for parents who allow their children to undergo procedures to transition genders to be charged with child abuse. 

On Tuesday, Abbott sent a letter to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to directing the state agency to promptly and thoroughly investigate all possible claims called in by the general public against Texas parents of trans children.

In a statement to KHOU 11, Kim Ogg, the District Attorney for Harris County said:

As District Attorney of the most populous county in Texas, I oppose attempts by Gov. Abbott and Attorney General Paxton to designate life-saving care for transgender children as ‘child abuse.’ As a member of the LGBTQ community myself, I am particularly sensitive to the invidious nature of this order—it turns family members against each other at the expense of their children. It is a remnant of a hateful past that I had hoped our society had matured beyond. I will not prosecute any parent, any facility, or anyone else for providing medically appropriate care to transgender children. I will continue to enforce the Constitution and the state’s criminal laws to assure the greatest degree of freedom and order that we can achieve.”

Houstonian Katie Laird shares the same concerns as Ogg. 

Laird, a mother of a 15-year old trans boy.

“He's artsy. He plays the base guitar. He skateboards. He’s getting his private pilot’s license."

Laird is choosing to keep her 15-year old’s name and image out of the public eye because of, “very real fear for the physical safety of my child.”

We asked her about Abbott’s directive.

“It really cuts to the core," she said.  

Especially after years of the Laird family prioritizing their son’s mental and physical health by working with a team of doctors and licensed professionals.  

“It’s certainly not just us as parents making random decisions for our child, deciding, 'Hey I’m going to do this.' Everything is really thoughtful, intentional.”

Shelly Skeen, a senior attorney with Lambda Legal, said major medical organizations describe gender-affirming procedures as life-saving. 

“Bottomline, we are allowing the government to reach into the privacy of people’s homes,” said Skeen. “And the government should not be in our private matters.”

Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest national organization that works toward equality for the LGBTQ+ community, is fielding a “flood” of calls from Texas parents, lawyers and therapists concerned by Abbott’s focus. 

“This is not law. There’s been no legislation that’s passed,” said Skeen. “I do think this is perfect timing in front of the primaries.”

District attorneys in Dallas, Travis, Bexar, Nueces, Fort Bend and Harris counties, which are some of the most populated counties in Texas, agree with Skeen.

“I think that it should signal to the viewer that this is wrong. You’re not recognizing people’s basic humanity.”

Laird encourages Texans to consider the people at the heart of the matter. 

“Like, they are our neighbors. They are friends. We shop at the same HEB.”

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said it will comply with the governor’s directive and an opinion written and shared by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. 

Both Abbott and Paxton are up for reelection this year. As of Wednesday, Texas DFPS said it was not investigating any parents for helping their child transition.

“When we protect and love and safeguard all of our children,” said Laird, “all of our families and children are better for it.”

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