Today’s legislative special session in Texas included a bill banning transgender students from playing on interscholastic teams that align with their gender identity. Children in grades K through 12 would only be allowed to play sports that correspond with their sex assigned at birth or sex designated on their original birth certificate. Other anti-trans bills on the special session docket include bans on gender-affirming therapy, counseling, surgery or health care. IntraSpectrum stands firmly with our trans youth and allies in Texas, as we recognize this discriminatory legislation would have extreme negative impacts on mental health, suicide, substance abuse, violence and other health risks within trans youth communities. For updates on the status of the legislation, click here. The blog post below, authored by a therapist on our clinical team, offers commentary and support on this incredibly important topic.
Despite living in Chicago, I still actively call myself a Texan and happily twang “Dallas”, when people ask where I’m from. However, I feel ashamed at the current political climate of Texas. Texas legislators have begun a special session that includes topics specifically targeted to discriminate against and limit trans youth. Texan lawmakers’ transphobia has led to a moral panic around trans youth, and climbed to the point that they have introduced more than 40 anti-trans bills this year1. Our trans youth are a vulnerable population, and are more likely than any other children to be the victims of bullying and suicide2. These kiddos need our kindness, nurturance, and support, and instead are at the receiving end of bills that leave them vulnerable and without access to necessary outlets.
One bill proposed excludes trans children from sports by requiring children to play only the sports that correspond with their sex assigned at birth (their sex as indicated on their birth certificate). Seemingly, this comes from lawmakers’ desire to “protect girls” from unfair biological advantages held by trans-girls. This narrative is rooted in a transphobic myth that men are dressing up as women as a way to gain access to and abuse women. This belief, reminiscent of Psycho or horror films, has been shown to be false many times, as trans-youth are far more likely to be a victim rather than the perpetrator of violence2. Why can’t we just let these kids be kids and use sports as an outlet for their stress and energy? Does it matter at a Friday night football game if all of the players on the field were assigned male at birth, or that all the cheerleaders were assigned female at birth? Or can we just let children pursue activities that bring them joy and cheer them on while they do it?
On a more sinister note, some of the bills proposes banning gender-affirming therapy or healthcare. Texas is attempting to limit therapy that focuses on resolving distress related to gender dysphoria3. I regularly work with people who are struggling with issues related to gender dysphoria, and I sit with people experiencing that depth of pain while they work to connect with who they are. This process is often difficult, painful, vulnerable, but also reaches for joy and contentment as people begin to experience a sense of connection with themselves. I work with adults, and I cannot imagine taking an opportunity for peace and relief away from a child.
It is difficult for me to see the lone star state refusing to give these kiddos the kind of warmth and compassion I know it is capable of. These proposed laws are incredibly harmful to the most vulnerable of our children. To contemplate, much less pass, these bills is an attack on the entire trans community and the message communicated is incredibly clear: Texas is not a safe place for trans people, and promote violence against trans children.
Dr. Kristin Kazyaka, PhD-L
Therapist, IntraSpectrum Counseling
IntraSpectrum Counseling is Chicago’s leading psychotherapy practice dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community, and we strive to provide the highest quality mental health care for multicultural, kink, polyamorous, and intersectional issues. For anyone needing affirming and validating support in their healing, please click here or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.