COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Colorado could soon become a safe haven for transgender youth, running from a new initiative in Texas. Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott — seven days before the GOP primary elections —ordered state child welfare officials to launch child abuse investigations into reports of transgender kids receiving gender-affirming care.
Governor Abbott specified that the reporting requirements applied to “all licensed professionals who have direct contact with children who may be subject to such abuse, including doctors, nurses, and teachers, and provides criminal penalties for failure to report such child abuse.”
Abbott’s directive follows a legal opinion from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who said gender-affirming care constitutes child abuse. Paxton said it would be child abuse to administer gender-affirming care that is widely accepted by leading health care groups, like puberty blockers, a type of medical treatment that delays puberty.
While it's unclear whether the Texas governor's new order will be enforced or hold up in court, LGBTQ+ advocates in the Lone Star State, and even the White House, are now condemning the move as dangerous.
While the state’s child welfare agency has said that it will investigate claims, some county and district attorneys have stated that they will not enforce the opinion.
Still, LGBTQ+ organizations and advocates in the south are now encouraging families to move to a "safe place," the closest to Texas being Colorado. Colorado organizations tell KRDO they're here to help.
Paul Provence of Houston is a non-binary trans-person and LGBTQ+ advocate.
“This is my opinion, but I think it’s clear that Governor Abbott is, you know, reinforcing his conservative credibility as he makes decisions about whatever he’s going to do politically," says Provence.
Not only is your physical safety and your mental health at risk because of the people that might treat you poorly, now there’s some unknown government man in Austin that you’ve never seen before who’s trying to interfere in your family life.”
Provence says that while they feel comfortable in their pocket of Houston, others have expressed the opposite, feeling unwanted in a place they want to live.
Inside Out Youth Services is an LGBTQ+ positive group in Colorado Springs. The group says criminalizing certain care for the LGBTQ+ community further stigmatizes an already vulnerable group of people.
“We found through so much research over the years that a single trusted adult in a young persons life can prevent suicide by up to 50 percent," says Liss Smith, communications director for Inside Out Youth Services.
The group says anyone for Texas, or any other state, who doesn't feel safe is welcome here.
“It is incredibly important especially for our community that so often feels ostracized and especially lately has been such a talking point for people who kind of forget that there are real human beings on the other side of these debates," says Smith.