Last night the White House issued a forceful statement of support for transgender children and their families, accompanied by an announcement of concrete actions from HHS making clear that U.S. law requires federal and state child welfare agencies to ensure that transgender youth receive essential medical care and prohibits states from penalizing parents who ensure their children’s access to such care. The announcement comes in the wake of Texas officials criminalizing parents who support their transgender children, including making sure their essential health care needs are met.

“Transgender kids, their parents, families and caregivers are facing a state of emergency right now,” said Jennifer Levi, Transgender Rights Project Director at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders. “The President’s robust statement of unequivocal support for transgender youth and families, and most importantly, HHS’s actions stating clearly that United States law fully protects transgender children and their families from discrimination by the state puts Texas on notice that it cannot enforce Governor Abbott’s directive.”

The actions announced by HHS include:

  • An Information Memorandum to state child welfare agencies that makes clear states should use their child welfare systems to advance safety and support for LGBTQI+ youth,  which importantly includes access to essential medical care;
  • Releasing 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 essential medical care;
  • Issuing 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;
  • Urging anyone who believes they or another party has been discriminated against on the basis of gender identity or disability in seeking health care to visit the OCR complaint portal to file a complaint online.

“The President’s statement of love and support for transgender children and their families is a welcome antidote to the pain and injury caused by the overreaching actions of the Texas governor and other politicians who are attacking transgender kids,” said Polly Crozier, Senior Staff Attorney at GLAD. “The HHS memorandum to child welfare agencies that states should use their child welfare systems to advance safety and support for LGBTQI+ youth, including access to essential affirming medical care, is incredibly important and will help states agencies across the country better serve kids in their care. Our state agencies should be using their resources to support children and families, not threatening to tear them apart and targeting vulnerable young people.”

Parents, caregivers or transgender youth who have been impacted by these policies can also reach out to LGBTQ legal organizations, including GLADLambda Legalthe National Center for Lesbian Rights or the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund.