Lambda Legal today praised President Joe Biden and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra for swiftly responding with a series of actions to shield and protect youth from the onslaught of discriminatory attacks hurled at them by statehouses across the country and by state leaders like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton, who continue to double down on a vile and shameless campaign of aggression targeting trans youth across Texas. The announced federal actions — which come on the heels of the State of the Union address where President Biden affirmed his commitment to having the backs of trans youth — include guidance to state child welfare agencies and guidance clarifying the rights of transgender youth and families needing access to gender affirming care.
Below is a statement from Kevin Jennings, the CEO of Lambda Legal:
“President Biden’s commitment to defending trans youth against the shameless, monstrous attacks being engineered by malicious and unscrupulous politicians is one of the most powerful demonstrations of why leadership matters for LGBTQ+ people. Following the president’s powerful declaration this week that he has the backs of trans youth, he put his words into action — wielding the power of the federal government to put every state in the Union, including Texas, on notice that discriminating against trans youth and preventing them from accessing lifesaving medical care isn’t only wrong, it is a violation of civil rights, and it won’t be tolerated.”
“Lambda Legal this week filed a lawsuit in Texas alongside the ACLU and ACLU of Texas, not only to block Texas from putting the health and safety of trans youth at risk, but to send an important message to trans kids across the state that we won’t let this happen on our watch. If any families are in need of representation or advice as they navigate this hostile situation, I encourage them to contact our Help Desk and consult our FAQ. We are proud President Biden is helping us to further amplify that message of support, and Lambda Legal praises both the President and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra for taking historic action to shield trans youth from having the child welfare system weaponized against them by leaders who have shown that they care nothing about their welfare; to emphasize the critical need to affirm and support all LGBTQ+ youth in state care; and to promote family acceptance programs that allow young people to remain safely with their parents and never enter the child protection system.
We hope that these actions mark a new chapter in the federal government’s approach, and that the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services will finally work with us, rather than continue to fight us in court, to reinstate other important nondiscrimination protections that were illegally rolled back during the Trump administration.”
BACKGROUND: The Biden administration’s actions came in a series of announcements last night. An information memorandum issued by HHS affirmed “The Department of Health and Human Services and all leading national medical and pediatric associations confirm that providing gender-affirming medical care is in the best interest of children and youth who need it.” The series of actions taken by the administration includes:
- HHS released guidance to state child welfare agencies through an Information Memorandum that makes clear that states should use their child welfare systems to advance safety and support for LGBTQI+ youth, which importantly can include access to gender affirming care;
- HHS released guidance – PDF* on patient privacy, clarifying that, despite the Texas government’s threat, health care providers are not required to disclose private patient information related to gender affirming care;
- HHS also issued guidance – PDF* making clear that denials of health care based on gender identity are illegal, as is restricting doctors and health care providers from providing care because of a patient’s gender identity;
- The Secretary also called on all of HHS to explore all options to protect kids, their parents, caretakers and families; and
- HHS will also ensure that families and health care providers in Texas are aware of all the resources available to them if they face discrimination as a result of this discriminatory gubernatorial order.