Families of Trans Kids in Texas Struggle With Options Amid Crackdown on Care

Cameron Wright, 16, has always seen himself as a “dude.” As a young child, Cameron didn’t have the words to explain the disconnect between how he saw himself and how the world saw him. But he knew that despite being born in a girl’s body, he was meant to be a boy.

After taking reversible puberty blockers that pause a teenager’s body changes, Cameron considered whether he wanted to begin hormone therapy to physically transition more permanently. Cameron didn’t take the decision lightly. Cameron claimed that his doctor made Cameron spend almost a whole year deliberating the question, talking with his therapist and thinking about the life-altering implications. Finally, he believed he was ready for the doctor to give him the prescription in 2020.

“I thought about if I stayed a girl, life would be so much easier,” said Cameron, who uses the pronouns he and him. “But this is what I want, and I’m not going to let anything stop me from being who I want to be, whether it’s hard or not.”

In November 2021, Genecis, a Dallas clinic that provides gender dysphoria treatment, ceased accepting new patients at the GENder Education and Care, Interdisciplinary Supple Clinic. pressure from Republican activists and politicians. The clinic was closed down so that doctors could continue to treat patients like Cameron. Cameron and his family are now concerned about the implications of this.

Ken Paxton is the Texas attorney general. opened investigationsRepublican Gov. Greg Abbott and other Republican governors have invested in pharmaceutical companies whose products are used transgender patients. Greg Abbott, the state GOP, and increasingly focusing legislative and reelection effortsOn a record number of billsThey target transgender teenagers, their parents, as well as their doctors.

Since then, Texas Children’s HospitalHouston announced that it would no longer offer hormone therapy. The Texas Tribune reportedLegacy Community Health, also located in Houston, has quietly stopped hormone therapy for teens. Doctors across the state are telling patients that they won’t prescribe the medication if pressured by insurance companies.

Transgender teenagers and their families in Texas are currently trying to find providers for their medications and keep them safe. Some may even consider moving to another state. Texas is home to approximately 17,000 transgender teenagers aged 13-17, according the Texas Transgender Association. Equality Texas, an advocacy and education organization for LGBTQ+ people.

Chloe Ross, 15, uses the pronouns she uses and it has been distressing for her. “I’m just as human as everyone else,” she said.

Chloe’s doctor is still seeing her and prescribing her hormones. Kathryn Ross has begun looking into out-of-state options for Chloe’s care. The family has been saving money in case they need to move, Ross said, but they hope it doesn’t come to that.

“Having just moved, and Chloe making good friends, the last thing we want to do is uproot her,” said Ross. “Moving would be the last option.”

The family moved to Texas to escape bullying. The teen was accepted by her new schoolmates, who only know her as Chloe. She loves theatre and is interested in genetics. But Abbott’s orders to investigate parents who allow their children to receive gender-affirming care, and legislative threats to criminalize such care, weigh heavily on Chloe.

“I’m just trying to get through high school and stuff,” Chloe said through tears. “Having Gov. Abbott make me worry about that kind of stuff is terrible because I don’t get a normal life anymore, you know? Right now, I’m having to go to my teachers to ask them to please not turn me in for being trans. I shouldn’t have to worry about something like that.”

Chloe stated that jewelry, volleyball and theater have been her favorite things for as long as she can recall. She was unsure how to express herself and thought she was homosexual. According to Chloe’s mom, strangers often assumed that Chloe was a woman even though she presented herself as a man and had not yet identified herself as transgender.

Echoing other parents, Chloe’s mother said that even though she was already deeply involved in LGBTQ+ support and advocacy, Chloe’s coming out as transgender was a “gut punch.” Never once did she disbelieve Chloe, but she feared for her daughter’s future. She was worried about what was happening right now.

Young people receiving gender-affirming care include those who are socially transitioning — for example, wearing clothing that reflects their gender identity — and those taking puberty blockers or hormones.

Not all young people who identify as transgender, however, move beyond social transitioning or experience the condition known as gender dysphoria, which means that they experience psychological stress when their body doesn’t match their identity. And people who take puberty blockers don’t necessarily decide to take gender hormones. For those under 18, surgery is not recommended.

Although there are still some political issues in the United States about gender-affirming care of trans young people, a study publishedJAMA Network Open found a decrease in suicide ideation among trans youths who received such treatment. These health care organizations include the Endocrine Society, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Medical AssociationSupport gender-affirming health care.

Cameron is still scheduled to meet with Genecis in May despite the changes. Dr. Ximena LopezThe doctor overseeing his care. His mom, Myriam Reynolds, however, worries it won’t take place. Lopez has filed a lawsuitAgainst UT Southwestern Medical Center, which jointly operated Genecis with Children’s Medical Center Dallas, alleging that the facility discriminated against some patients by preventing them from receiving gender-affirming care based on their gender identity.

In the meantime, Reynolds picks up Cameron’s hormone refills as soon as they are available to maintain a constant supply. She also stated that the family is looking at all options to ensure Cameron continues receiving care, despite the state crackdown.

“They don’t care at all about trying to help my kid,” Reynolds said. “It’s all political theater.”

It’s especially hard because access to Genecis was a consideration when the family decided to relocate from Colorado to Texas in 2017. Cameron had already declared his transgender identity and his mother thought he would be treated with compassion and thoughtful care during the transition. The family is now concerned about the type of care Cameron will receive in Texas.

Cameron, who plans to study music production and become a firefighter in the future, is optimistic that politicians will not stop cutting medical care for people like himself.

“I can’t control the way I am,” said Cameron. “This is not my mom’s doing or my doctor’s doing. This is just me trying to be myself.”

KHN (Kaiser Health News)This national newsroom produces in-depth journalism on health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling KHN One of the three main operating programs at KFF(Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed non-profit organization that provides information to the nation on health issues.

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