Nurses Condemn Texas Attack on Transgender Youth and Gender-Affirming Care

National Nurses United (NNU) condemns Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s and Attorney General Ken Paxton’s move to criminalize gender-affirming health care for trans youth.

“As nurses, our commitment to inclusive gender justice means we condemn political attacks on transgender youth,” said NNU President Zenei Triunfo-Cortez, RN, reaffirming NNU’s long-standing dedication to gender justice by standing with trans youth.

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“During a pandemic when politicians should be expanding health care systems for all, they are instead attempting to restrict a vulnerable community’s access to life-saving services for their own political self-interest,” Triunfo-Cortez added.

“Lawmakers across the country continue to launch political attacks on the transgender community, especially targeting trans youth,” said Triunfo-Cortez. “Measures that seek to restrict trans youth’s ability to access medical services are being made to advance an extremist rightwing agenda with no regard for the actual health outcomes for patients.”

Abbott’s and Paxton’s efforts to criminalize providing gender-affirming care to trans youth by classifying these life-saving forms of health care as “child abuse” endanger not only trans youth, but the parents and communities who love and support them, said NNU.

Triunfo-Cortez also criticized Paxton’s push to re-interpret existing laws designed to protect children and Abbott’s direction to prosecute parents, teachers, and health care providers as “completely out of line with both research on gender-affirming care’s impacts and basic medical principles of providing aid.”

Leading medical organizations recognize that gender-affirming care is an evidence-based form of patient care that leads to better health outcomes for trans people of all ages, reducing suicidality in a community particularly vulnerable to its impacts. That is why decisions about these kinds of care should be left to patients, their families, and medical professionals, not politicians looking to discriminate for the sake of their own political interests.

“Nurses’ values are to provide care to anyone who needs it, regardless of who they are. We take an oath to do so,” said NNU President Triunfo-Cortez. “Politicians should not be preoccupied with trying to prevent life-saving medical care.” 

Texas’s leaders are not alone in their campaign to attack trans youth. In recent years, right-wing lawmakers across the country have sought to criminalize providing trans health care and legislate trans people’s ability to participate in their communities. Measures like the recent proposal in Utah to establish a commission to analyze transgender youth’s bodies to determine their eligibility for sports represent serious efforts to systematically exclude trans youth from civil society.

These attacks on trans youth are one part of a broader national campaign to dismantle hard-won rights for gender-oppressed people, such as reproductive rights and services and gender-affirming care. This is evident in Texas, where draconian limitations on reproductive rights have been enacted alongside other attacks on voting rights and public education.

NNU seeks to end all gendered violence, especially as it intersects with racism, xenophobia, and economic inequality. NNU stands with our trans members, patients, other trans workers, the broader trans community, and all those fighting for gender justice.

National Nurses United is the largest and fastest-growing union and professional association of registered nurses in the United States with more than 175,000 members nationwide.

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