Chapin Hall opposes directive to Texas Dept. of Family & Protective Services
Misguided directive contradicts mission of agency
As a national leader in the field of child welfare dedicated to studying and promoting the safety and well-being of children, youth, and families, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago opposes Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s directive to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate any reported instances of gender-affirming care as child abuse.
Years of research and practice show that supporting children and youth during their development is critical to their well-being. Denying gender-affirming care undermines one’s sense of self-worth and security, inflicting long-lasting harm to physical and psychological safety, self-esteem, well-being, and family relationships. Major medical organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Pediatric Endocrine Society, and the American Psychological Association have condemned this directive because it interferes with essential medical care. Anything other than gender-affirming care comes at tremendous cost to children and youth who are in need of support.
This directive, which introduces a new standard for investigation of child abuse, contradicts the mission of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, which is to “promote safe and healthy families and protect children and vulnerable adults from abuse, neglect, and exploitation.” Equating gender-affirming care with child abuse flouts the purpose of child protection laws and diverts protection resources from legitimate reports of suspected child abuse, thereby endangering children. Moreover, research shows that exposure to the child welfare system through an investigation or family separation is traumatizing for children and their families and that risk of child protective services exposure is highest for low-income families, families of color, and families with members who identify as LGBTQIA2S+.
The benefits of keeping families intact and free from child welfare system contact are clear. Local, state, and federal systems should work together to provide families the care and support they need, rather than driving more trans and gender diverse children and youth—whose loving and supportive families are at their side—into child protection systems. This misguided directive will only increase injustice for those who identify as LGBTQIA2S+ who are already especially vulnerable to child welfare system exposure.
- Lorthridge, J., Evans, M., Heaton, L., Stevens, A., and Phillips, L. (2018). Strengthening family connections and support for LGBTQ foster youth: Findings from the PII-RISE Evaluation. Child Welfare, 96(1), 53-78.
- Sanford, T. (2020). Experiences and Well-Being of Sexual and Gender Diverse Youth in Foster Care in New York City: Disproportionality and Disparities.
- Tordoff DM, Wanta JW, Collin A, Stepney C, Inwards-Breland DJ, Ahrens K. Mental Health Outcomes in Transgender and Nonbinary Youths Receiving Gender-Affirming Care. JAMA Netw Open.2022;5(2):e220978. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.0978