GOP Anti-LGBT Legislation Is Attempt to “Eradicate Trans Youth” Says ACLU Lawyer

Chase Strangio, the author of the interview, is our guest ACLURecent anti-LGBTQThere are currently pending bills in Texas, Idaho, and Florida. Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” education bill aims to ban the mere discussion of sexuality and gender identity in schools. Idaho’s bill criminalizes transgender teens and children receiving gender-affirming care. Meanwhile, welfare officials in Texas have begun to carry out Republican Governor Greg Abbott’s directive to launch child abuse investigations against parents who seek gender-affirming care for their transgender children. “What we’re seeing is a national, well-funded effort to attack and eradicate trans youth and trans lives specifically,” says Strangio, who is also an attorney in the ACLU’s lawsuit against Abbott.


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AMY GOODMAN:This is Democracy Now!, Democracynow.orgThe War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman with Juan González. Tuesday’s Florida Senate vote was to ban school discussions of sexuality and gender identity. The legislation known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill has faced mounting criticism from Democrats, rights advocates, many students and educators. The Idaho State House has now passed a bill that would make it a crime to provide gender-affirming care for trans children and teens. It makes it a felony to provide gender-affirming care, including hormone treatments and surgeries, for doctors. It would also make it a crime to take trans youth from the state to get that care elsewhere. This all happens as Texas is battling over a directive from Republican Governor Greg Abbott, which orders state welfare officers to launch child abuse investigations into parents who seek gender-affirming treatment for their trans children. We now move to Chase Strangio who is the Deputy Director of Trans Justice. ACLU LGBTQ & HIV Project. The ACLUIt is part of a lawsuit against Texas to block the directive. Chase, let’s start with Florida and what happened there.

CHASE STRANGIO:Amy, thank you and good morning. Starting specifically with Florida, we now have the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill that heads to Governor DeSantis’ desk. He has expressed his support for the bill. I’d like to make two quick points about this piece legislation, both in relation to the legislation itself and the national context. First, we’re hearing a lot from supporters about how this is really targeting young children in classrooms, with an explicit prohibition in the K through three context. But what can parents of fourth-graders like mine do? What are my kids supposed to do? These are grades where people are encouraged talk about their families. This eliminates the possibility for young people to speak about their lives and their truth. That connects to this larger national context where what we’re seeing is a national well-funded effort to attack and eradicate trans youth and trans lives specifically. This is not an outcome of what we’re seeing, it is the intention.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ:Could you please talk about the context in what these and other bills are being pushed by Republican lawmakers, especially in Florida, where DeSantis is clearly a potential presidential candidate?

CHASE STRANGIO:I believe what we see nationally is an attempt to leverage and weaponize misinformation, especially about trans people, to mobilize a political basis in the lead-up 2022 and 2024. This is happening in state houses across the country that are deeply gerrymandered, that have shifted incredibly far to the right as a result in large part of the Supreme Court’s decision in 2013 to gut the Voting Rights Act with the Shelby County versus Holder decision. So we can’t understand this national context without understanding the voter suppression that is happening, without understanding the efforts to restrict access to reproductive healthcare. There is a dynamic process that is mobilizing state control over people’s bodies through voter suppression structures in order to make it harder for people to survive in the lead-up to major national elections in 2022, the midterms, and then in 2024 with the presidential election. That is what we’re seeing from GOPLeadership not only in Florida, it also applies to South Dakota and Texas.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Chase, you’re an attorney in the case of Doe versus Abbott in Texas. Can you briefly describe the case and discuss what has transpired so far?

CHASE STRANGIO:It is clear that Texas is in crisis. Families are being terrorized by Governor Abbott’s completely extralegal and impermissible directive to the child welfare agency to start investigating families and threatening the general public with criminal prosecution if they do not report trans youth and their families to the child welfare agencies. We know from the ground that transgender families are being investigated. Teachers are being asked not to report transgender families and children to child welfare authorities. Providers have cut off all healthcare in the state. People are suffering from the consequences of this directive. To stop this directive being implemented, we filed a lawsuit. We are currently in Austin state court to stop the implementation at all levels of this directive. This litigation is ongoing. The reality is that trans young people are struggling to survive due to the national conversation and the actions of the Alabama legislature, Florida Legislature and Texas executive officials.

AMY GOODMAN: Texas, Chase. Are they threatening to take trans kids away from their parents’ homes?

CHASE STRANGIO:They threaten to take trans children from their parents for the sole purpose of loving, supporting and providing them with necessary, doctor-recommended healthcare. This is something that I cannot emphasize enough. They are entering homes and investigating families because parents love their children and provide care that is consistent with all major medical associations in the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: The significance of what happened on Friday, the Houston-based Texas Children’s Hospital, the largest pediatric hospital in the country announcing it is stopping prescribing gender-affirming hormone therapies?

CHASE STRANGIO:They have stopped receiving care and cancelled appointments. And we’re talking about lifesaving necessary care, so we have young people who are relying on this care to stabilize their health and well-being. A lot of this care is time-specific, so they’re pulling young people off of care that’s going to force them into their endogenous puberty. The extent of the fear and trauma is unimaginable right now and there’s very little recourse for many people. We are doing everything possible to stop the implementation of these directives and the fallout. Because it isn’t just these large hospitals but also individual providers that are at risk of being criminally prosecuted if they do not follow their ethical obligation as physicians to treat their patients.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We only have about a minute left, but I’m wondering if you can talk about some of the legislation occurring in other states, for instance in Idaho, Iowa or Utah?

CHASE STRANGIO:I want to briefly mention that both Idaho (and Alabama) currently have felony bans pending on healthcare. If those bills pass—in Alabama, there’s one vote left in the House. It must be approved by the Senate in Idaho. These are bills that would also be catastrophic for trans persons. We have one such bill in Arkansas that we enjoined, but our litigation continues elsewhere.

AMY GOODMAN: Specifically in Idaho, what you’re most concerned about happening there?

CHASE STRANGIO:I am concerned that the bill will pass and that all care will be cut off. It is not only cut off, but it would also make it a felony with the potential for life imprisonment to not only treat people in-state but to take someone out of State to receive treatment. What are the rights of families? As a parent, it is hard to imagine what it must be like to face criminal prosecution for trying to keep your child alive.

AMY GOODMAN:Chase, how many bills are like this one?

CHASE STRANGIO:We now find ourselves in a situation where 35 states have introduced legislation targeting transgender young adults. We are able to stop some of these bills, but we will continue to fight until the very end of these legislative sessions, because there is an aggressive push for these bills to be quickly passed through state legislatures.

AMY GOODMAN: We want to get into the details of these, so we’re going to do part two of our discussion with you right now. Chase Strangio, the Deputy Director of Trans Justice with The ACLU LGBTQ & HIV Project. That’s it for our show. Democracy Now!We are currently accepting applications to the position of Human Resources Manager. Learn more, and apply at Democracy Now! is produced with Renée Feltz, Mike Burke, Messiah Rhodes, Nermeen Shaikh, Maria Taracena. I’m Amy Goodman with Juan González. Keep safe.