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Category: Journalism

Austin Chronicle: Trans Kids Under Attack In Texas

Posted in Austin Chronicle, Journalism, and LGBTQIA

Despite a temporary halt to politically motivated child abuse investigations of families with trans kids, parents and advocates say they continue to live in fear as anti-trans moral panic sweeps through the Lone Star State’s GOP base voters and their leaders.

The ACLU of Texas and Lambda Legal have won four successive rulings in their challenge to Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive to investigate normal gender affirming health care as child abuse. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has asked the Texas Supreme Court to overrule a lower court’s injunction and allow Child Protective Services investigations to continue immediately. Shelly Skeen, a senior attorney from Lambda Legal representing the plaintiffs, told the Chronicle that she expects a favorable ruling, because both the law and medical experts are on Lambda Legal’s side.

… Texas continues to look for other ways to put pressure on trans kids, their parents, and their health care providers. In late March, Paxton’s office filed new investigative demands in a civil case against two pharmaceutical companies, Endo Phar­ma­ceuticals and AbbVie Inc., which provide puberty-blocker drugs. Although approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of children who enter puberty early, they’re also prescribed (with the backing of experts like the American Medical Association) as a way to delay puberty in transgender kids who are too young to receive other forms of medical treatment such as hormones.

Update: St. Johns Camp Moved Into Temporary Housing

Posted in Austin, Austin Chronicle, and Journalism

On March 25, city personnel moved 31 people living in a controversial encampment at St. Johns and I-35 into transitional housing at the North­bridge and South­bridge shelters, as part of the city’s HEAL (Homeless Encamp­ment Assistance Link) initiative, adopted in the wake of last year’s local and state reinstatement of a ban on public camping.

For months, the encampment in and around St. John Neighborhood Park had generated concern among neighbors. On March 6, police shot and killed 28-year-old Miguel Ruiz Rivera, who lived periodically at  the camp, after he had apparently been spotted firing a gun near one of  the tents. At the same time, an outpouring of generosity from locals seeking to help unhoused neighbors inspired multiple fundraising campaigns and sustained volunteer efforts to feed, assist and,  ultimately, house the campers before the city stepped in.

Austin Chronicle: ACLU, Lambda Legal Back In Court Over Anti-Trans Directive

Posted in Austin Chronicle, Journalism, and LGBTQIA

The American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal are back in court over Gov. Greg Abbott’s “abuse” directive, after the state threatened to ignore a ruling that temporarily protected families with transgender children from unneccessary investigations by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

On March 17, the two civil rights nonprofits asked the Texas 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals to issue an emergency order that would force the state to obey the lower court’s ruling. Previously, Judge Amy Clark Meachum blocked Abbott’s directive until at least July when the lawsuit is due to continue; meanwhile, Attor­ney General Ken Paxton claims the state can completely disregard Meachum’s ruling while awaiting the results of an appeal. Shelly Skeen, a senior attorney from Lambda Legal representing the plaintiffs, told the Chronicle that the appeals court could rule on both their emergency restraining order and the state’s appeal any day now, or call for more hearings. Ultimately, she expects the courts to side with well-established medical science when it comes to gender affirming care. “CPS should not be investigating families that are simply trying to provide medically necessary care … and to give their trans kids the best possible life,” said Skeen.

Austin Chronicle: Why Is Fox Celebrating This Nazi?

Posted in Austin, Austin Chronicle, and Journalism

Paul Gray, a white supremacist originally from Tyler and active in Austin during the Trump presidency, is being lauded by Fox News after volunteering to fight Russian invaders in Ukraine. During a March  1 appearance in a segment titled “Former American paratrooper joins  fight in Ukraine,” Fox reporters praised Gray as a veteran volunteering  to fight on behalf of Ukraine but neglected to mention his violent  history.

Despite Fox protecting Gray’s identity by using only his first name, he was easily recognizable to extremism researchers like Michael Edison Hayden, senior investigative reporter and spokesperson for the Southern Poverty Law Center. “They elect not to report his full name and don’t even stop to ask why he might already be in Ukraine,” Hayden told the Chronicle.  “They just hope that the audience doesn’t ask any questions because  then Fox will be forced to dig deeper into an uncomfortable story about  our problems with radicalization here at home.” Reports published by  KETK, Tyler’s Fox affiliate, did use Gray’s full name and further  identified him as an American citizen who’s owned a gymnasium and  reportedly “been an influence on the Ukrainian community.”

Austin Chronicle: Court Halts Abbott’s Anti-Trans ‘Abuse’ Directive

Posted in Austin, Austin Chronicle, Journalism, and LGBTQIA

Families with transgender children in Texas won a reprieve on Friday,  March 11, after a court temporarily blocked a statewide directive  issued by Gov. Greg Abbott that redefined gender affirming care as presumed child abuse.

The action came in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU and Lambda Legal on behalf of an anonymous family with a 16-year-old transgender teen,  who’d found themselves under investigation by the state. The child’s  mother, referred to in court filings as Jane Doe, was an employee  of the Texas Depart­ment of Family and Protective Services and had  expressed concern about the Feb. 22 directive. The agency then put Doe  on leave and opened an abuse investigation into her family. Another  plaintiff is Dr. Megan Mooney, a Houston psychologist who feared  the directive could force “mandated reporters” such as herself to turn  in clients simply for offering their trans kids appropriate care. Brian Klosterboer,  an ACLU of Texas attorney who represents Mooney and the Doe family,  said the state was moving against trans kids with alarming speed. “It’s  really scary that they’ve weaponized the Department of Family and  Protective Services to play politics with the very lives of transgender  young people and to terrorize families in this state,” Klosterboer told  the Chronicle before the hearing.

Austin Chronicle: Trans Youth & Allies Rally Against ‘Abuse’ Guidelines

Posted in Austin, Austin Chronicle, Journalism, and LGBTQIA

A crucial upcoming hearing, perhaps as early as March 11, could put the brakes on Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive for the state to investigate – as presumed child abuse – any gender ­affirming medical care provided to transgender youth. In the meantime, trans Austinites and allies are banding ­together to defend their human rights.

Transgender UT student Ash Terry organized a roughly  350-person protest March 1. After Abbott’s draconian directive inspired  an outpouring of support, she said she’s actually feeling more hopeful  for the future of trans kids in Texas than ever. “I was surprised at the  number of cis[gender] allies out there,” she said. “I was just really  staggered that there were so many, and a lot of people from out of town.  This whole experience has given me a lot of hope.”