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Lambda Legal has praised President Joe Biden and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra for swiftly responding with a series of actions to shield and protect youth from the onslaught of discriminatory attacks hurled at them by statehouses across the country and by state leaders like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton, who continue to double down on a vile and shameless campaign of aggression targeting trans youth across Texas.

'The president has your back,' Biden says to trans youth youtu.be

The announced federal actions — which come on the heels of the State of the Union address where President Biden affirmed his commitment to having the backs of trans youth — include guidance to state child welfare agencies and guidance clarifying the rights of transgender youth and families needing access to gender-affirming care.

Below is a statement from Kevin Jennings, the CEO of Lambda Legal:

“President Biden’s commitment to defending trans youth against the shameless, monstrous attacks being engineered by malicious and unscrupulous politicians is one of the most powerful demonstrations of why leadership matters for LGBTQ+ people. Following the president’s powerful declaration this week that he has the backs of trans youth, he put his words into action — wielding the power of the federal government to put every state in the Union, including Texas, on notice that discriminating against trans youth and preventing them from accessing lifesaving medical care isn’t only wrong, it is a violation of civil rights, and it won’t be tolerated.”

“Lambda Legal this week filed a lawsuit in Texas alongside the ACLU and ACLU of Texas, not only to block Texas from putting the health and safety of trans youth at risk, but to send an important message to trans kids across the state that we won’t let this happen on our watch. If any families are in need of representation or advice as they navigate this hostile situation, I encourage them to contact our Help Desk and consult our FAQ. We are proud President Biden is helping us to further amplify that message of support, and Lambda Legal praises both the President and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra for taking historic action to shield trans youth from having the child welfare system weaponized against them by leaders who have shown that they care nothing about their welfare; to emphasize the critical need to affirm and support all LGBTQ+ youth in state care; and to promote family acceptance programs that allow young people to remain safely with their parents and never enter the child protection system.

We hope that these actions mark a new chapter in the federal government’s approach, and that the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services will finally work with us, rather than continue to fight us in court, to reinstate other important nondiscrimination protections that were illegally rolled back during the Trump administration.”

BACKGROUND

The Biden administration’s actions came in a series of announcements on March 2. An information memorandum issued by HHS affirmed “The Department of Health and Human Services and all leading national medical and pediatric associations confirm that providing gender-affirming medical care is in the best interest of children and youth who need it.” The series of actions taken by the administration includes:

  • HHS released guidance to state child welfare agencies through an Information Memorandum that makes clear that states should use their child welfare systems to advance safety and support for LGBTQI+ youth, which importantly can include access to gender affirming care;
  • HHS released guidance - PDF* on patient privacy, clarifying that, despite the Texas government’s threat, health care providers are not required to disclose private patient information related to gender affirming care;
  • HHS also issued guidance - PDF* making clear that denials of health care based on gender identity are illegal, as is restricting doctors and health care providers from providing care because of a patient’s gender identity;
  • The Secretary also called on all of HHS to explore all options to protect kids, their parents, caretakers and families; and
  • HHS will also ensure that families and health care providers in Texas are aware of all the resources available to them if they face discrimination as a result of this discriminatory gubernatorial order.

For more information about Lambda Legal’s ongoing federal court cases challenging Trump-era efforts to rollback federal nondiscrimination protections, read here and here.

How to talk about transgender issues

So how do we talk about transgender issues (even if you're not transgender)? There are three main things to remember when discussing transgender issues today, so before getting into the meat and potatoes of it all, let's keep these things in mind:

  1. It is not a political discussion, it is a human rights discussion.
  2. There is a rich history rooted in transgender rights that must be considered when discussing these issues.
  3. Humanization should always be at the forefront of the conversation.

Before going into any conversation, no matter who it's with, try to keep these things in mind before you say something that may be inappropriate, misguided, or just plain wrong. Even those with the best intentions can mess up; remember that it is always ok to admit when you do not know something or when you are wrong. That being said, let's get into it.

sign with a 'friendly for all genders' image showing a person in a wheelchair, and a person with half a dress and pants on.

Transgender bathroom bills

commons.wikimedia.org

So whether you choose to become a transgender activist or if you just want to be a better ally, this easy talking point will generally keep you in line and on the safe side of conversations while still putting forth the effort to encourage and better represent transgender rights.

Easy, all-around approach: This will work for almost all transgender issues and expand on the previous three rules; firstly, trans issues are not a debate. When discussing with someone, do not indulge in hypotheticals and always remember that transgender people are the exact same as anyone else, with the exact same feelings. Keeping this in mind, let's use the bathroom bill as an example. When discussing this issue, one should humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation. How does one employ this, though? Here is an example of how the conversation may go.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restroom, they will rape my daughters.

So this statement is clearly based on reactionary conversation perpetuated by anti-transgender ideals. This means that the person probably has a misconception of the history and oppression of transgender people. They also show concern for their family, which is a step towards humanization, despite the misconception. Here would be an appropriate response that helps to humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation.

Person 2: I don't want men in the women's restroom, either, which is why we need to make sure people who identify as women are using the women's restroom. There has never been a documented case where a transgender person has raped either a man or woman in a public restroom. And by forcing people to use a restroom that does not match their gender identity, it is promoting violence, as there is a strong history of physical violence against transgender people.

By only saying about three sentences, you are able to do the previous steps while discussing the issue in a civil manner without opening it up to debate. The key to this is to keep it short and sweet, stating both the truth and an ally's stance to support the transgender community. It's critical to make sure that what you say is backed with confidence, though, which is why this second approach is more encouraged as it gives the person speaking more confidence in their opinion.

gif of a man in a suit talking about number 1. Number 1 GIF by PragerU Giphy

The second approach: backed by facts and history, is the exact same as before, but this approach leaves the other person with more questions about their stance and gives them something to consider. Before going into this approach, however, it is important to keep in mind that you are not debating the existence of trans people, nor are you trying to change someone's mind. That is not the goal; the goal is simply to get your opinion across in a way that honors both the trans community and their ideas. Let's take the same example as before but add the new sentiments.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restrooms, they will rape my daughters.

Person 2: There has never been a documented case of a transgender person raping anyone in a public restroom, and the only published cases of such were proven to be false. Further, when people say things like this, they are perpetuating violence against transgender people, which has historically (and still does) oppressed and insight further physical violence against them. And honestly, the most common reason there is this stance is because the person typically does not know a trans person and may not even know a person who does know a trans person. But the truth is, they probably do. The probability is more likely that the transgender people around them are just not comfortable enough in the environment to come out and speak up about their gender identity. And yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it is quite sad that some people's opinion does not invite civil discussion but instead incites violence.

This approach is more confrontational, which requires more confidence when using it in a conversation, but it still holds true to all of the previous rules and sentiments. It adds truth based on history, which is an important aspect of trans rights as it reminds people of where we were/ where we are currently with human rights. These ideas can be transferred to most all trans issues and will honor the transgender movement and your allyship. The last thing to keep in mind is the person or reason you are standing up for/with trans rights. The passion -the compassion will shine through in conversation if you keep your reasoning close to heart. Whether it is because of a transgender friend, family member, or just because of your moral values, if you put your emotions into your reasoning, it will create more compelling statements, especially if the statement is well versed with the facts.

Tips to Remember When Discussing Transgender Issues

  1. Transgender issues are not political, they are human rights issues
  2. There is a rich history behind transgender issues
  3. Humanize transgender people through our words and ideas and don't forget to include:
    • 3(b). The facts
    • 3(c).The confidence
    • 3(d). The inspiration behind the support for transgender rights

Transgender Sign in Pride Parade



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