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Tag: Texas

Texas Observer: Alex Jones Seeks Bigotry-Fueled ‘Groomer’ Comeback

Posted in Journalism, and The Texas Observer

Alex Jones remains a toxic influence on American politics and society despite an apparently shrinking audience and dwindling sales at his Infowars online shop, plus mounting losses in a bevy of lawsuits. After decades of spreading anti-LGBTQ+ bigotry, Jones now wants to stage a comeback by positioning himself at the front of a new wave of hatred—with the help of powerful friends like Republican U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene.

“Alex Jones Broke The Groomer Gate Scandal … in 2008?!” read an incredulously phrased headline on a story published by Infowars in April. The post links an audio recording by Jones— in which he claims elementary school teachers are giving explicit sexual instructions to 6 or 7 year olds—to today’s “groomer” panic. “Grooming” refers to a behavior whereby pedophiles ingratiate themselves with a potential underaged victim. But right-wing pundits, including Jones, Fox News host Tucker Carlson, and the viral Twitter account @LibsofTikTok, now seemingly want to expand the definition to include openly LGBTQ+ teachers or anyone who speaks with young people about the existence of transgender people and gender diversity.

Austin Chronicle: Texas Supreme Court Calls Out Greg Abbott

Posted in Austin Chronicle, and Journalism

While neither side got exactly what they’d wanted from the May 13 decision, Shelly Skeen, a senior attorney at Lambda Legal representing the plaintiffs, told the Chronicle that the ruling was overall a win for trans young people and their families. The court emphasized the importance of the rule of law, which the state has tried to ignore. “The law is clear and the law says parents have to provide medically necessary care for their kids, and to not do so is child abuse,” she told us. Medical experts overwhelmingly agree that providing age-appropriate care for transgender young people improves their lives and greatly reduces incidences of suicide.

Podcast: Trans Texas & Abortion Access In Texas

Posted in Audio, Austin Chronicle, Journalism, and LGBTQIA

It’s Going Down invited me to come back to their podcast to discuss the GOP war on trans and LGBTQIA rights, based on my recent reporting for the Austin Chronicle:

Trans Refugees: Leaving Texas To Protect A Trans Kid

Posted in Austin Chronicle, Creative Commons, Journalism, and LGBTQIA

“It’s heartbreaking to look back and see that the investigations of gender-affirming families have started, that the nightmare I had of someone knocking on my door and threatening to take away my kid is actually coming true for some people,” Camille Ray told me.

Ray’s family are like a growing number of families: they’ve left or plan to leave the state of Texas to protect a trans or queer child. She moved from the Austin-area to Maryland in August 2021, in order to protect her transgender son Leon. We spoke on the phone as she walked her dog on a hiking trail near her home, as research for my recent Austin Chronicle article on the fear and anxiety faced by trans people and their families.

Though the interview didn’t make it into the article, I wanted to share a little of it here since I know her experience mirrors that of so many other residents of Texas, and other states attacking their LGBTQIA+ young folks. People who make the painful choice to leave, essentially becoming political refugees from a state that hates their trans or queer children.

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.

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.