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Texas Republicans Need to Stop Attacking Transgender Rights

Texas GOP Uses “Religious Freedom” to Discriminate Against LGBT Texans
Texas Republicans are jeopardizing the lives, health, and safety of transgender people in a brutish attempt to score political points.

With two back to back attacks on the rights of transgender people in Texas, this week is endemic of Texas Republicans cruel crusade of discrimination — standing as an unfortunate reminder that the fight for LGBTQ equality is far from over in our state. Just days after a conservative federal judge in Texas dealt a procedural setback to federal protections for transgender students in school, indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton initiated another lawsuit aimed at denying transgender people health care.

Working alongside other Republican politicians — like Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick — Paxton is jeopardizing the lives, health, and safety of transgender people — an already marginalized, at-risk community — in a brutish attempt to score cheap political points.

Instead of focusing on the real issues confronting our state — a broken child protective system, inequitable schools, a third world maternal mortality rate, 5 million Texans lacking health insurance, and the list goes on — these statewide elected officials are wasting Texans’ tax dollars, sullying our reputation, and undermining our values to deny civil rights to transgender people nationwide.

Transgender students deserve basic dignity of using the bathroom at school.

According to national data, 75% of transgender youth feel unsafe at school. To address this reality, hundreds of schools and school districts across the country and state have worked to craft common sense policies to ensure that schools are safe spaces for transgender students.  Days after the Obama administration issued guidance that would help extend these nondiscrimination policies to schools nationwide, Ken Paxton filed suit — setting out to make transgender youth — who already face harassment and bullying to an unimaginable degree  — the targets in his campaign of state-sanctioned discrimination.

Despite the misinformation contained in Ken Paxton’s “guidance letter” on the impact of the injunction, this temporary block of the Obama administration’s nondiscrimination guidance doesn't change the legal rights of students, schools, and school districts.

Rebecca Robertson, legal and policy director of the ACLU of Texas explained to the Houston Chronicle:

"School districts in Texas that already have inclusive policies to protect their transgender students are free to enforce them. Schools districts considering such policies are free to adopt them. And parents and students who want to challenge how their schools treat transgender kids are free to advocate — and to bring suit if necessary,"

Transgender people deserve access to health care.

Texas Republicans’ attacks on transgender rights this week didn’t stop with going after transgender students. Despite national data showing nearly 20% of transgender people are refused medical care and nearly 30% postpone care due to discrimination, Ken Paxton’s office filed a new lawsuit over a federal rule change that would expand transgender Americans’ access to health care.