(NEXSTAR) — President Joe Biden and the Department of Health and Human Services say they’re taking steps to support transgender children, families and health care providers in the wake of Texas’ recent plan to investigate some parents of transgender children. Biden condemned the directive made by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, calling it “a cynical and dangerous campaign” to “score political points.”
Last month, Abbott directed the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate parents who get their transgender children gender-affirming medical care. Under the recommendation – not an executive order or official law – these parents could be investigated and convicted of child abuse.
In a statement Wednesday, Biden said:
“Like so many anti-transgender attacks proliferating in states across the country, the Governor’s actions callously threaten to harm children and their families just to score political points. These actions are terrifying many families in Texas and beyond. And they must stop.”president joe biden
The HHS says it’s working to make sure state child welfare systems understand they should be using their resources to support queer youth, including gender-affirming care. Additionally, HHS says it’s reminding health care providers they aren’t required to give over patient information related to this care.
Biden’s comments come after two Texas parents filed a lawsuit against Abbott and state officials after they were investigated for their transgender daughter’s medical care. While Texas Judge Amy Clark Meachum issued a temporary order to stop the investigation, the order doesn’t stop the state from investigating any other parents for the time being. A hearing to possibly block more investigations is scheduled for March 11.
Late Wednesday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an appeal of Meachum’s decision.
HHS Sec. Xavier Becerra urged anyone in Texas who is being targeted or investigated under this directive to report it to the federal Office for Civil Rights.
Trans activist Charlotte Clymer told MSNBC reporter Zerlina Maxwell for her Peacock show “Zerlina:”
“This doesn’t really just affect trans kids. Think about a young boy who is cisgender and very happy being a boy but paints his fingernails,” Clymer said. “Or a young lady who wants to do a masculine thing. Under this [directive] there could be reasonable doubt as to whether that constitutes child abuse… all they really need is the perception – the suspicion – that you have a trans child and you’re affirming your trans child. We’re gonna see this escalate far beyond what we’re witnessing right now.”
The Texas directive comes amid a flurry of anti-trans legislation across the country.
On Thursday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law a bill banning transgender female students from participation in girls’ school sports in the state. At the signing, Reynolds called the bill ” a victory,” saying “It’s simply a reality of human biology. Forcing females to compete against males is the opposite of inclusivity and it’s absolutely unfair.”
Biden elaborated on the HHS actions, saying he and First Lady Jill Biden “stand with the incredibly brave transgender children, their parents, and families around the country…”
LGBTQ people in need of mental health support can call the Trevor Project’s 24/7 toll-free support line at (866) 488-7386. Trained crisis counselors are also available through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 or texting 741741.