For Trans Awareness Month, we are highlighting the inspiring parent-plaintiffs from our cases in Montana, Texas, and Tennessee
November is Trans Awareness Month, a time in which we honor, advocate for and bring awareness to trans and gender-nonconforming people everywhere.
To kick off the month, we are celebrating Trans Parent Day this week, recognizing and applauding all parents who support their trans children with unconditional love and compassion.
At Lambda Legal, we’ve witnessed firsthand how powerful and life-saving a parent’s love can be. When we go to court to fight legislation that discriminates against trans youth, we are often not alone: The children’s parents are right there on the frontlines with us, many even serving as official plaintiffs.
These parents won’t back down and won’t be silenced when it comes to their trans children and their right to joy, safety, respect, and healthcare. And when the fight gets harder? These parents respond by loving more.
As a trans person with supportive parents, it’s an honor to lift up some of our amazing parents and parent plaintiffs today. Below, learn more about them and their cases. And through official court document excerpts and statements, see how these parents showed up time and time again for their trans children — listening to, affirming and advocating for them every step of the way.
Case: van Garderen v. State of Montana
What’s At Stake: The lawsuit challenges Montana SB 99, which bans evidence-based care for gender dysphoria for transgender people under 18.
Parent Plaintiffs: Jessica and Ewout van Garderen, parents of 17-year-old trans daughter Scarlet
Parents Statement Excerpt:
Puberty blockers and hormone therapy have changed Scarlet’s life. Before she began treatment, I watched Scarlet withdraw from the family and from many aspects of her life. It was increasingly hard to get her out of bed and for the first time she started struggling in school. Scarlet started wearing a baggy hoodie all the time, even when it was warm, and it seemed like she was trying to avoid anyone seeing her. There reached a point where I was afraid that when I opened her bedroom door, she would not be alive. I will never forget that fear.
When Scarlet was able to access gender-affirming care, there was a drastic change in her well-being. Even learning about the possibility of gender-affirming care gave her some hope and lessened Scarlet’s obvious distress. Within a few weeks of Scarlet starting puberty-blocking medication, I was no longer so afraid that Scarlet would harm herself. The positive change has been night and day. Gender-affirming treatment has allowed Scarlet to become the confident, thriving child I know and love. There is no way we can go back.
Scarlet is an amazing and precious person, and I love her. I cannot go back to fearing for her safety and well-being now that we have found the care that has allowed her to thrive. Scarlet not receiving this health care is simply not an option for our family.
Case: Loe v. Texas
What’s At Stake: The lawsuit seeks to block Texas SB14, the state’s recently enacted discriminatory ban on medical care for transgender youth.
Parent Plaintiffs: Lazaro Loe, father of 12-year-old trans daughter Luna Loe
Parents Statement Excerpt:
As my daughter persisted in her female gender identity, I tried to educate myself as a parent about what she might be going through. I first read a book called the Gender Creative Child, which was very illuminating. I then found other ways to educate myself. I researched articles and watched documentary films about our transgender families and their experiences. I learned more about what it means for someone to be transgender, especially as a child.
Being able to fully be herself as a girl at school and in public provided tremendous relief to Luna, who became happier, more social, and more self-confident. Her school performance dramatically improved. My daughter thrived, even as her school year was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although this was a tough year for many, through family support and the support of her school and peers, it was the best school year Luna experienced academically to date. She has continued to excel and thrive ever since. To put it simply, Luna was ecstatic to fully be who she is in all areas of her life.
If this health care ban goes into effect, Luna’s access to health care would be in jeopardy, and my ability as a parent to provide best-practice, evidence-based health care to my child would be destroyed. Being able to access puberty blockers has had a tremendously positive effect on Luna’s health and wellbeing. Losing access to this care and being forced to go through puberty based on her sex assigned at birth would severely harm my child.
Case: L.W. v. Skrmetti
What’s At Stake: The lawsuit seeks to block Tennessee SB 1, a law banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender people under the age of 18.
Parents: Samantha and Brian Williams, parents of 15-year-old trans daughter and plaintiff L.W.
Parents Statement Excerpt:
It’s hard to overstate the difference our daughter’s medical treatment has made in her life and our family’s life. Before coming out and starting to receive this medical care she struggled to make friends, keep her grades up, or even accept hugs from her family.
Now, we have a confident, happy daughter who is free to be herself. We know that her gender-affirming medical care is ensuring she can thrive, which is the most important thing to us as parents. I want the Justices to see and understand my daughter and recognize her rights under the Constitution like any other person, and to see that if parents like me don’t have the right to determine what’s best for our children, no parent does.
For more Lambda Legal cases featuring loving trans parents and parent plaintiffs, check out Voe v. Mansfield and Noe v. Parson. Also, stay tuned for an upcoming blog about one trans person’s journey into parenthood. Revisit our Trans Parent Day 2022 blog post, “For Parents of Trans Youth, Love is Clearly the Answer.”