Texas Transgender Athlete Ban Dies as deadline passes

Amid much celebration, the last of the Texas 20 bills targeting transgender students and minors died without a vote Tuesday night. And amazingly it was Democrat Rep. Dutton the man who revived and passed SB29 out of committee who made the motion to end the late-night session.

“We woke up this morning determined to kill that bill,” Rep. Julie Johnson, D-Carrollton, told The Dallas Morning News just before midnight. “I’m really really pleased and so grateful that we were able to deliver this win for the children of Texas and their rights to live full and happy lives, free from discrimination.”

Over the objections of LGBTQ advocates and families of trans kids, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick elevated the bill this session as one of his top priorities. But the GOP-led House postponed debate on the bill late Tuesday, effectively killing it by running out the clock, over fears that Democrats would drag out the discussion and doom dozens of other bills set for debate after it.

“We’ve got a lot to do in a short period of time,” Rep. Tom Oliverson, vice chairman of the Texas House Republican Caucus, told The Dallas Morning News just before the deadline. “We can’t make time.”

The Texas Legislature did all of this without a dogfight.

Earlier in the day laughter and smiles reigned in the Senate as a bipartisanship bill to end puppy mills hit the floor. Shortly after woofing down that crucial bill, the Senate passed legislation limiting Governor Abbott’s authority during a pandemic and defeating the Senate Speaker LT Governor Dan Patrick’s effort to silence independent and social media when it expressed opinions contrary to the Governor’s.

On top of that, the Legislature defeated efforts to further target voting rights and passed a bill increasing medical cannabis availability.

This is my home.

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Trans Sports bans land on Louisiana and Florida Governors’ Desks

As of today, on May 29, nine states have enacted legislation during 2021 targeting transgender youth. The worse offenders Arkansas, and Tennessee have been already sued. Given the lack of evidence for the laws, and that the supporters can’t name a trans athlete in their state, the laws will be most likely be put on hold until the cases are resolved.

Two more bills are awaiting action by governors. The Florida sports ban hit DeSanto’s desk a month ago. And a bill just landed on Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards desk. Both of these bills were passed with a veto-proof majority.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association, the main governing body for college sports, released a statement in April saying that “only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected” for its events. Pundits are saying that states that have enacted these laws aren’t facing any consequences but looking back on North Carolina and HB2 the NCAA took action after the bill went into effect and not before.

The Olympics have allowed transgender athletes to compete for a decade. During that time there haven’t been any to accel to the highest levels and win medals. That will change as it should when equality is achieved. Not because transgender athletes have any kind of advantage but because they will be allowed to compete vis a vis having their lives ended in their thirties.

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The last of Texas’s 20 anti-trans bills died Tuesday at midnight

The last of the anti-transgender bills died Tuesday at midnight when HB 29 failed to get the third reading in the House of Representatives.

The final bill to fail, a priority of Gov Greg Abbott would have codified and further toxified Texas scholastic rules. These rules were punitively emplaced by Dan Patrick after the entire state banded together to kill his bathroom bill in 2017, hence the moniker bathroom bill 2.0.

Rachel, wife of Frank and mother bear to her wunderkind daughter Libby, told us this on the morning after:

“This has been the most difficult session for the trans community in Texas. While I am still heartbroken that legislators across the state continue to use our children as political pawns and invite the public to debate the legitimacy of our children’s existence, the relief we are feeling today is immense.”

Libby when we first met in 2017 / Dallas Morning News

“Our children know they are loved and that their community along with members of the Texas House will fight for their right to a life free from government-endorsed discrimination,” said Rachel in a statement this morning to planet Transgender.”

It wasn’t just the Democrats who reigned victorious at midnight! It was a combined bipartisan effort of both houses when Republican members rebelled against Abbott’s draconian measures in other areas. Two issues rubbed the Republicans the wrong way, his Trumptonian attempt to censor anyone with opposing views and his overruling local control when the Pandemic started, affecting thousands in the spring.

People were apprehensive when Rep Dutton, a Democrat from Houston, motioned to postpone the third reading for SB29 until 11:30 pm. But not to worry. That gave all of the other bills, from both sides of the aisle a fair chance for a hearing.

Did Gov. Abbott know that we stopped listening to him months ago? He should have since over 70% of Texas Republicans agree that trans Texans’ lives actually matter.

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ACLU files lawsuit to stop Arkansas from denying trans youth healthcare

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The American Civil Liberties Union today filed a lawsuit on behalf of four transgender youth and their families as well as two doctors challenging an Arkansas law that prohibits health care professionals from providing or even referring transgender young people for medically necessary health care. The bill also bars any state funds or insurance coverage for gender-affirming health care for transgender people under 18, and it would allow private insurers to refuse coverage for gender-affirming care for people of any age. The lawsuit, filed in federal court, alleges that House Bill 1570 violates the U.S. Constitution.

The ACLU says today’s lawsuit is the first of many legal challenges in response to a record-setting year of legislative attacks on transgender people, particularly transgender youth, across the country. Trans youth should not have to fight so hard to live.

The parents in our lawsuit are considering leaving the state to ensure their family has access to gender-affirming care.

The doctors in our lawsuit will no longer be able to provide life-saving care their patients rely upon.

“This law would be devastating to trans youth and their families, forcing many to uproot their lives and leave the state to access the gender-affirming care they need,” said Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas executive director. “Gender-affirming care is life-saving care for our clients, and they’re terrified of what will happen if this law is allowed to take effect. No child should be cut off from the medical care they need or denied their fundamental right to be themselves — but this law would do both. We’re suing to stop this cruel and unconstitutional law from taking effect and inflicting further harm on these children and their families.”

Health and Human Services Press Release: HHS Announces Prohibition on Sex Discrimination Includes Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The plaintiff families include Dylan Brandt and his mother, Joanna Brandt; Brooke Dennis and her parents, Amanda and Shayne Dennis; Sabrina Jennen and her parents, Lacey and Aaron Jennen; and Parker Saxton and his father, Donnie Saxton.

Dr. Michelle Hutchison and Dr. Kathryn Stambough are also challenging the law on behalf of themselves and their patients because it impairs their ability to treat their transgender patients with medically necessary health care or even refer them to other providers for treatment. Every major medical association supports treating transgender youth with gender-affirming medical care and opposed House Bill 1570 because it runs counter to science and medicine and will cause severe harm to transgender young people, their families, and all those who love them.

Brooke Dennis
Plaintiffs Brooke Dennis, (Right) Amanda Dennis, and Shayne Dennis live in Bentonville, Arkansas. Amanda and Shayne are the parents of Brooke, who is 9. Brooke is transgender. Once she begins puberty, which could be at any time, Brooke’s parents, with the advice of her doctors, intend to have her begin receiving medical care that would be prohibited by the Health Care Ban.

Amanda and Shayne Dennis’ daughter, Brooke, who is 9 years old, is fearful about what will happen to her if she cannot get gender-affirming medical care when puberty begins.

“Our child has known exactly who she is since she was 2 years old,” said Amanda Dennis, Brooke’s mom. “She was a happy child and felt comfortable expressing herself but when she began to feel pressure at school to pretend she is a boy, she began to really struggle. It was painful to watch our child in distress. Last year, when she told us she is a girl and would like to be called ‘Brooke’ and referred to using she and her pronouns, we supported her immediately and the cloud of sadness lifted and her smile came back.” She added, “We have told all of our children that we will always protect them, but this law stands in the way of our child getting the medical care she will desperately need.”

The Dennis family may move out of the state if the health care ban takes effect. Uprooting their family from their community, schools, and jobs would not only be a hardship for Amanda, Shayne, and their children but also their extended family, as they are caring for aging parents.

“This is who I am, and it’s frustrating to know that a place I’ve lived all my life is treating me like they don’t want me here,” said Dylan Brandt, a 15-year-old who lives with his mother Joanna Brandt. “Having access to care means I’m able to be myself and be healthier and more confident — physically and mentally. The thought of having that wrenched away and going back to how I was before is devastating.”

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Trans Families flee Arkansas and Texas, the only homes they knew

Gov. Asa Hutchinson vetoed the bill denying medical care but said there is nothing he can do. This is heartbreaking for the children and families affected as they realize their State Government doesn’t want them there.

Dylan Brandt, 15, is a transgender teen from Arkansas who has been taking testosterone but will no longer be able to receive the hormone once a new state law takes effect this summer that bars gender-affirming medical care for minors.

If the Brandt family is forced to leave they will join a growing exodus of the gender diverse from states controlled by the extreme right.

Many, like the Spurriers, have chosen to go to New Mexico.

The Spurriers, a family of three in Central Arkansas took note of legislation introduced and passed by the Arkansas General Assembly that has directly targeted our son’s healthcare, education, and mental well-being. As a result,” the Spurriers wrote on their gofundme, “we are making a serious effort to relocate to a state that is more friendly to the LGBTQIA+ community”. Keeping closeness to family, post-secondary educational opportunities, and our own health in mind, we have determined that New Mexico is the best fit for us.

We’ve lived in Arkansas since 2005. Our child has grown up in that time, learning kindness, humor, and empathy. A year and a half ago, he hesitantly came out to us as transgender. Despite the love and acceptance, we have tried to embody, he was terrified of how we might react. He had heard horror stories of trans youth whose families responded with cruelty. We assured him of our unchanged love and understanding. Following that conversation, we reached out to his existing therapist and the wonderful staff at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Gender Spectrum Clinic to begin the long journey to help him transition into an identity that felt right for him.

Counselors and clinicians confirmed his conviction that this new course was right. The medical staff at ACH-GSC helped our son take the first step toward easing his dysphoria, by administering common birth control injections to reduce or eliminate the monthly trauma of his periods. In most transgender males, two doses of such drugs achieves the completely reversible cessation of monthly cycles for a period of time. For our son, the duration and frequency of periods increased substantially, which made what was already traumatic an absolute hell for him. After a third Hail Mary dose, which failed to produce the desired effect, the doctor suggested that moving on to testosterone injections would be the best option.

We are a month and a half into weekly T shots, which our needle-shy teenage son has been self-administering (the surest testament to his commitment to this transition). His confidence and comfort have increased by leaps and bounds, and it is clear that he is elated with his progress so far. He has gone from being on the verge of suicide to excitement for his future.

The Arkansas General Assembly has taken action to return him, and his transgender male and female peers, to that brink of self-destruction. House Bill 1570 , explicitly prohibits not only gender reassignment surgeries—which are not performed on minors in Arkansas in the first place—but the puberty-blocking medications and hormone replacement therapies that help ease gender dysphoria in teens until they reach the age of majority and can make their own independent choices regarding surgery. Lacking a “grandfather clause” to exclude active hormone/blocker patients, the bill would cut off these teens…our teen…from their therapies, doing irreparable physical and mental harm.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has vetoed HB1570, but members of the General Assembly have already pledged to see that the legislature overrides his veto. Even if the bill dies, it is but one of at least four (SB289, SB354, HB1570, & HB1749 so far) such bills, three of which have already been signed into law.

The Texas legislature is will likely pass a bill today denying transgender healthcare to minors. Not to be outdone by Arkansas the punishment for parents would be a sentence to prison as child abusers.

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US Health and Human Services – Transgender Healthcare will be protected

The Biden administration put Arkansas on notice today that the state is in violation of the law by denying transgender children healthcare. The HHS through the revitalized Office of Civil rights is open for business to take complaints from LGBTQI people who have been denied healthcare.

HHS press release May 10, 2021:

“The Supreme Court has made clear that people have a right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sex and receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation. That’s why today HHS announced it will act on related reports of discrimination,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Fear of discrimination can lead individuals to forgo care, which can have serious negative health consequences. It is the position of the Department of Health and Human Services that everyone – including LGBTQ people – should be able to access health care, free from discrimination or interference, period.”

Discrimination in health care impacts health outcomes. Research shows that one-quarter of LGBTQ people who faced discrimination postponed or avoided receiving needed medical care for fear of further discrimination.

“The mission of our Department is to enhance the health and well-being of all Americans, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation. All people need access to healthcare services to fix a broken bone, protect their heart health, and screen for cancer risk,” said Dr. Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary for Health. “No one should be discriminated against when seeking medical services because of who they are.”

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (the Department) is responsible for enforcing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (Section 1557) and regulations issued under Section 1557, protecting the civil rights of individuals who access or seek to access covered health programs or activities. Covered entities are prohibited from discriminating against consumers on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“OCR’s mission is to protect people from all forms of discrimination,” said Robinsue Frohboese, Acting OCR Director. “OCR will follow Supreme Court precedent and federal law, and ensure that the law’s protections extend to those individuals who are discriminated against based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

On June 15, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII)’s prohibition on employment discrimination based on sex encompasses discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Bostock v. Clayton County, GA, 140 S. Ct. 1731 (2020). The Bostock majority concluded that the plain meaning of “because of sex” in Title VII necessarily included discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender identity. Id. at 1753-54. Consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock and Title IX, beginning today OCR will interpret Section 1557’s prohibition on discrimination on the basis of sex to include: (1) discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; and (2) discrimination on the basis of gender identity. This interpretation will guide OCR in processing complaints and conducting investigations, but does not itself determine the outcome in any particular case or set of facts.

In enforcing Section 1557 as stated above, OCR will comply with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb et seq., and all other legal requirements. Additionally, OCR will comply with all applicable court orders that have been issued in litigation involving the Section 1557 regulations, including Franciscan Alliance, Inc. v. Azar, 414 F. Supp. 3d 928 (N.D. Tex. 2019); Whitman-Walker Clinic, Inc. v. U.S. Dep’t of Health & Hum. Servs., 485 F. Supp. 3d 1 (D.D.C. 2020); Asapansa-Johnson Walker v. Azar, No. 20-CV-2834, 2020 WL 6363970 (E.D.N.Y. Oct. 29, 2020); and Religious Sisters of Mercy v. Azar, No. 3:16-CV-00386, 2021 WL 191009 (D.N.D. Jan. 19, 2021).

OCR applies the enforcement mechanisms provided for and available under Title IX when enforcing Section 1557’s prohibition on sex discrimination. 45 C.F.R. § 92.5(a). Title IX’s enforcement procedures can be found at 45 C.F.R. § 86.71 (adopting the procedures at 45 C.F.R. §§ 80.6 through 80.11 and 45 C.F.R. Part 81).

If you believe that a covered entity violated your civil rights, you may file a complaint at https://www.hhs.gov/ocr/complaints.

Washington D.C. – Today, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that the Office for Civil Rights will interpret and enforce Section 1557 and Title IX’s prohibitions on discrimination based on sex to include: (1) discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; and (2) discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Section 1557 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in covered health programs or activities. The update was made in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County and subsequent court decisions.

The Notice may be found at: https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ocr-bostock-notification.pdf – PDF.* **

* This HHS-approved document is being submitted to the Office of the Federal Register (OFR) for publication and has not yet been placed on public display or published in the Federal Register. This document may vary slightly from the published document if minor editorial changes are made during the OFR review process. The document published in the Federal Register is the official HHS-approved document.

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Vermont Gov. Phil Scott Signs Bill to Ban Trans Panic Defense

It was a glorious day Wednesday in Vermont as Republican Governor Phil Scott signed a bipartisan bill banning gay and trans panic defense. The bill cosponsored by first term trans woman Representative Taylor Small and veteran Representative Mari Cordes passed nearly unanimously with a vote of 144-1 in the house and 29-0 in the Senate.

Vermont becomes the 14th state to ban the trans panic defense after Virginia became the first southern state to do so with the help of trans woman Danica Roem. In 2020 trans woman Representative Brianna Titone co-sponsored a bill banning the trans panic defense making Colorado the 11th state.

“Today I’m signing h128 an act relating to limiting criminal defenses based on victim identity which many of you may know as the Transpanic defense bill into law,” said Gov. Phil Scott. “With this legislation, Republicans Democrats, and Progressives alike send a message to Vermonters that your identity should never be an excuse for someone to cause you harm.”

“What this bill does is make sure a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity can’t be used to defend or justify a criminal act or to lower a sentence.”

“I want to thank Representative Small and the other co-sponsors of the bill as well as the house and senate judiciary committees for your leadership on this issue.”

“I also want to recognize those at the LGBTQIA Alliance of Vermont and the members of the pride center Vermont who’ve been advocating for change and equality for years. While this effort is a step in the right direction we know there is still more work to do to ensure all Vermonters regardless of identity feel safe and protected in our state and I look forward to continuing our work together in the future.”

“So with that,” Gov. Scott said, “I’ll sign the bill and I hope to see folks in person very soon.”

Lavender Ceiling
Representative Small was one of 7 transgender political hopefuls who shattered the Lavender ceiling in 2020.

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Transgender Georgians, families brace as states pass restrictive laws

A group of girls stand behind Georgia Rep. Philip Singleton as he introduces HB 276 during a presser on day 12 of the Georgia Legislative session at the Georgia State Capitol Building in Atlanta, Thursday, February 4, 2021. HB 267 would ban transgender girls from participating in sports for biological females. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.comGEORGIA NEWS| May 1, 2021By Tamar Hallerman, The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionProposals limiting medical care, sports options for trans kids have advanced across South

Throughout much of her childhood, P. felt like something was off. But she didn’t know exactly what.

“I felt at odds with myself,” the Decatur resident recounted. “Almost like my physical body was trying to push me in one direction but I wanted to go another.”

The breakthrough moment came on a family vacation in 2017, when she read a National Geographic cover story about Avery Jackson, a pink-haired 9-year-old who is transgender.

“I remember reading her story at like 1 in the morning, sitting in the Airbnb thinking, ‘oh my God, that sounds like me,’” said P., now 16.

There are no simple paths for transgender children, whose gender identity does not match the sex they were assignedat birth.ADVERTISING

Acceptance is not a guarantee. Gettingteachers, classmates and school administrators to call them by the correct names and pronounscan be a fight. Arrangements often need to be made for places as basic as locker rooms, school bathrooms and camp bunks — where bullying or traumatic moments could occur.

Many local parents and teens are even more on edge as upwards of30 states this year have considered — and several have passed — legislation that would affect transgender youths and their support systems. Arkansas took the most aggressive step in April, when it became the first in the country to criminalize physicians who help children under 18 transition genders.

Much of the legislative action is taking place across the South, including Georgia, where two sets of bills were introduced at the Capitol thisyear and could be picked up again when the General Assembly reconvenes in January.

Such laws would limit the options available to teens like P., who rely on hormones to help align their bodies with their gender identities. Medical associations like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association say such treatments can be life saving for a marginalized population that’s already at a high risk of suicide and depression. Supporters of the proposals say they protect children from making lasting medical decisions before they are old enough to understand the consequences.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution agreed to identify two minors in this article by their first initials to protect the privacy of the children and their families, who feared being targeted by opponents of transgender rights and spoke on condition of anonymity. One teenager, with his parents’ blessing, chose to have his full name published.

Lawmakers zero in

Georgia’s transgender community is small yet significant. A 2016 study from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law estimated roughly 55,650 people in Georgia, or 0.75% of adults, identified as transgender, fourth among U.S. states in percentage terms. Among high school students, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated almost 2% nationwide identified as trans in 2017.

Even as public support for transgender rights has grown, trans kids increasingly have found themselves on the front lines of the nation’s culture wars over the last five years.

The first skirmishes involved restroom access. North Carolina’s infamous “bathroom bill,” passed in 2016 and partially repealed a year later, drew national headlines and boycotts, while closer to home, schoolboards from Decatur to Pickens County contended with the issue.

More recent proposals would require transgender kids to compete on sports teams that correspond with their gender assignedat birth rather than the one with which they identify. Supporters, which include socially conservative and religious organizations such as Alliance Defending Freedom, Duluth-based Faith and Freedom Coalition and Georgia Baptist Mission Board, have argued girls who aren’t transgendercould be crowded out of sports teams and scholarship opportunities.ExploreGeorgia Senate panel OKs bill limiting sports to gender identified at birth

Other bills floating around state legislatures wouldcreate criminal penaltiesfordoctors who help minors transition by performing gender confirmation surgery or prescribing puberty blockers or hormones.

Blockers delay puberty to give children more time to decide next steps without their bodies developing features they’d want to change later, such as facial hair or breasts. Their effects are reversible, while those from hormone treatments partially are not. The Endocrine Society recommends that doctors wait until a patient has “sufficient mental capacity to give informed consent,” usually by age 16, to prescribe estrogen or testosterone. Surgery, meanwhile, is exceedingly rare for children under 18.

Proponents of restrictions say they’re trying to protect children, and particularly teenagers, from making permanent changes to their bodies while they aren’t emotionally mature.ExploreGeorgia lawmaker: Make aiding gender transition of minors a felony

The government sets a minimum age for getting tattoos and buying cigarettes, and life-altering medical care should be no different, said state Rep. Ginny Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, the lead sponsor of Georgia’s version, which would make it a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison for doctors assisting in a minor’s transition with blockers, hormones or surgery.

A dozen southeastern states have considered sports or medical care proposals this year, according to the Campaign for Southern Equality, despite legal threats from organizations like the ACLU and boycott threats from the NCAA.

Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee have already signed transgender sports legislation into law. And a dozen states around the country are considering an Arkansas-style ban on blockers, hormones or surgery for minors.

Dr. Izzy Lowell poses for a photo at her practice, Queer Med, in the Decatur office, Tuesday, February 4, 2020. Dr. Lowell, a family medicine physician, started Queer Med to fill gaps in the care for transgender and nonbinary patients of all ages. Queer Med, or Q Med, offers hormonal therapy and Name/Gender Marker change letters for patients.  (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Credit: alyssa.pointer@ajc.com

Dr. Izzy Lowell’s Queer Med clinic in Decatur would be directly affected by the latter.It serves transgender people in nearly a dozen mostly southeastern states. About 1 in 8 of its roughly 2,000 patients are under 18.

“There’s no medical reason for this bill,” Lowell said.“There are very significant, very real risks of not giving hormone therapy. In many cases that’s a very real risk of harm, both self-harm and harm from others.”

Six southern states are mulling proposals that would go even further: penalizing parents who help their children medically transition.

Family matters

LGBTQ advocates argue that such legislation is inhumane, since research shows just how life saving so-called gender-affirming support, both from family members and medical treatments, can be. More than one in three transgender high school students have attempted suicide, at least four times higher than among non-trans students, according to recent CDC data.

But rates drop by more than 45% when a family is highly accepting of a young person’s gender identity, according to The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ suicide prevention group. Use of puberty blockers and hormones are similarly associated with decreased behavioral and emotional problems.

For P., the physical changes were slow to come when she first started taking hormones two years ago. But she immediately felt a mental shift.

“It was kind of this innate psychological thing of like, ‘I’m getting there,’” she said. That “slowly but surely I’m on the right track.”

Her parents, Michelle and Dave, admitted they knew little about transgender people when P. came out to them at 14. They wanted to be supportive, but also quietly wondered whether it was just a phase. As P. began to transition socially and then physically, the couple quickly realized she wouldn’t change her mind.

They saw how elated she was the first time she wore a skirt outside the house at Oakhurst’s Porchfest, and how she blended right in at a Pride festival they stumbled across while on vacation in Vienna, Austria.

“As a parent, you want to shield your kid from all the dangers of the world as long as you can,” said Dave, who asked that the AJC withhold his family’s last name to protect his daughter’s privacy. “But you also have to recognize that this is the path that they’re going down and this is how they can live as their authentic selves.”

Peter Isbister leads the metro Atlanta chapter of the support group TransParent, which aims to help parents become “confident caregivers and advocates” for their trans kids. He said there’s no universal experience for the parents who show up at his meetings. Some mourn for the little boy or girl they initially raised, while others are quicker to adaptand eager to find ways to support their child.

“Like so many things, it is completely individual,” Isbister said.

In worst-case scenarios, parents become estranged from their children. Custody battles have been waged when one parent objects to a child’s transition. One such fight over a 7-year-old in Texas became a cause célèbre of the conservative media in 2019, drawing rebukes from prominent voices including U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump Jr., and helping inspire legislation in at least three states, including Ehrhart’s bill in Georgia.

It can be especially hard for families outside of metro Atlanta where LGBTQ people aren’t as visible. Lowell said she recently saw one patient who’d been turned away by nearly a dozen other physicians.

LGBTQ health is not taught comprehensively in medical schools today, according to Lowell, and even in metro Atlanta the system of primary care doctors, therapists and endocrinologists who provide gender-affirming care resembles a patchwork.

A few years ago, Suzanne Haerther of Atlanta spent hours on the phone with her insurance company trying to find a local therapist who could help her transgender daughter, who was then in high school. Even many of the counselors specializing in LGBTQ issues told her they weren’t experienced treating transgender patients.

“As a parent you have a child who’s going through a traumatic experience and you’re trying to find somebody who can professionally help them,” Haerther said.

Leaving Georgia

At the statehouse, at least one prominent Republican has indicated he’s not interested in wading into the fight.

“Sometimes we have issues that come along that are almost solutions in search of a problem,” said House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, when asked about the sports bill in April. He hasn’t weighed in on Ehrhart’s bill, but the measure did not advance past the committee stage last session.

Despite that, some young transgender Georgians have cast their gaze outside the state as they decide where they want to build their futures. Even without passage of the legislation, they feel like they’d be more welcome elsewhere.

P., a high school junior, is looking at colleges outside the South. Sam Schexnyder, a 16-year-old from Decatur, didn’t wait until graduation.

Within weeks of coming out as transgender in eighth grade, Schexnyder witnessed his local schoolboard get embroiled in a fight over its bathroom and locker room policies. So he was blown away when, on a trip to the West Coast, he saw how much more accommodating other states were to trans people.

He begged to move in with his aunt in Seattle, and upon starting school there almost two years ago, Schexnyder marveled at all of the gender-neutral bathrooms and multiple options on enrollment forms for pronouns. Teachers were used to trans students — there are a half-dozen in each grade in his new school — and there’s no risk of his classmates accidentally calling him by his old name or pronouns since they never knew him pre-transition.

Sam Schexnyder, a 16-year-old transgender boy from Decatur, moved to Seattle to live with an aunt in 2019.

Credit: Hand

“It’s just, it’s wildly better here,” said Schexnyder, a grin sprouting across his blond, bearded face during a recent video call. “I think that’s definitely the most important part of transition, just to know that other people are going to help you along in that period of your life where you’re figuring things out and trying to become a better version of yourself.”

Isbister, the head of TransParent, and his wife Robyn had resolved to provide that kind of support for their child, E., after he announced at 5 that he wanted to live as a boy. The proclamation didn’t come as a surprise.E. had signaled for years that he didn’t identify as a girl, eschewing dresses and at one point asking his family to call him Franklin for a month.

In the fall of 2018, the Decatur couple emailed their friends, neighbors and family members — pretty much everyone they could think of who regularly crossed paths with their children — with a request to call E. by his new name and pronouns.

“First and foremost in our minds these days is our ability to provide a safe and loving community for E. so that he does not have to grapple with hatred, shame, societal stigma, or feeling ‘less than’ at such a tender age,” they wrote.

They know they can’t shield their son, now 8, from the world forever, but they hope to insulate their happy-go-lucky child for as long as they can. Both parents are lawyers, and they say if Georgia lawmakers limit options for transgender minors, the family is willing to travel out of state to get treatment or fight such a statute in court.

“He has known from the beginning who he was,” Robyn said. “It would be a crime to have him living as a girl.”

Why we didn’t fully name some people in this article:

It is rare for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to not fully name people it quotes, because identity is an important factor as readers judge the credibility of information. Sometimes, after careful deliberation, the AJC makes exceptions. Several parents interviewed for this article wanted to protect their child’s privacy, citing their age and the sensitivity of the topic. The AJC decided it was important to share their experiences while safeguarding minors. Also factoring into the decision: Trans youths suffer higher incidences of bullying, depression and suicide, according to studies. In this article, minors in two cases are identified only by their first initial and some parents are not fully named to protect a minor’s identity. The reporter communicated with families several times through a combination of phone and video calls, emails and texts. The reporter, together with an editor, verified family details through online public documents and social media posts. Two editors also reviewed emails and texts between the reporter and families.

Article originally appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Kansas Legislature Fails to Override Governor’s Trans Athlete veto

In a contentious session, Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto of the legislatures anti-trans sports bill was sustained by one vote Monday.

Three Republicans and an absent Democrat joined with others to continue allowing transgender girls the same opportunities afforded the rest of academia.

In a tense vote Monday, the Kansas Senate nearly garnered enough votes to move forward with overturning the veto, reports the Topeka Capital-Journal. Members ultimately fell one vote shy of the 27-member threshold needed to override, with three Republican members opting to oppose the legislation.

But it was a Democratic senator, Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City, Kan. who ultimately decided the bill’s fate. Haley said after the vote the potential economic impacts of the legislation were what prompted him to side with the opposition.

The post Kansas Legislature Fails to Override Governor’s Trans Athlete veto appeared first on Planet Trans.

WV Gov Jim Justice signs bill banning trans athletes but can’t name one

Justass can’t name a single gild trans athlete as a reason for signing the bill banning trans girls from sports. But he sure knows how to call black opposing girl basketball players the N-word and get away with it.

Justice repeated that he was the basketball coach at a white high school and tried to excuse his signing the bill that way. But Justice didn’t talk about the Sept 2020 game in which he called the opposing team “a bunch of thugs“.

So Right. Thug. What’s the big deal?

Gov. Jim Justice is the coach of the girls’ basketball team at Greenbrier East High School, a school that is 89 percent white and five percent black. He had used the word “thug” when describing the Lady Flying Eagles.

The Lady Flying Eagles is coached by two black men.

The word “thug” is regarded as a derogatory racial term in West Virginia [evidently]. Woodrow Wilson High School is one of the more racially diverse schools in the state, and the two girls coaches at Woodrow are black men.

Banning transgender girls from sports even though there isn’t any, is a step closer to banning thugs. Right, Jim Justice?

The post WV Gov Jim Justice signs bill banning trans athletes but can’t name one appeared first on Planet Trans.