Last week, Governor Abbott of Texas used the power of his office to dehumanize transgender individuals when he issued an order calling on the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate instances of minors receiving gender affirming care as child abuse. He also called on teachers, nurses, doctors, and members of the public to report such care as child abuse.
This action is a cruel attack on the millions of transgender people in the United States, including older adults, who frequently are denied competent, gender affirming, and non-discriminatory health care. And who, because of these struggles, and other types of discrimination throughout their lifetimes, report poor physical health, poverty, depression, and anxiety. It is also an attack on the families of transgender youth, including parents, custodial grandparents, and kinship caregivers, who may face investigations of child abuse simply for ensuring that their children receive the health care services they need.
Transgender older adults report compound effects of discrimination, impacting their economic security, safety, and health. Nearly 1 in 5 transgender individuals reports being refused care because of their gender non-conforming status, and 1 in 3 transgender older adults reports poor physical health. When you add in discrimination based on race, transgender older adults of color experience even worse inequities.
Access to health care and economic security throughout the lifespan impacts individuals’ opportunity to age independently with the supports and care they need. Today’s transgender youth could stand a much better chance to age with dignity because society, medicine, and laws have taken steps to move toward more inclusive and just treatment of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. Governor Abbott’s action is a disgusting attempt to take us backwards rather than moving ahead to a world where every individual is treated with respect and can receive the health care they need.
Justice in Aging is in solidarity with all trans and gender non-conforming people of all ages and will continue to work in coalition to advance the rights and dignity of trans people and their families.