Protesters rally for transgender rights at Texas Capitol


Peyton Sims/The Daily Texan

Hundreds of people wave their homemade signs and pride flags outside of the Texas State Capitol on March 1 in protest of Gov. Greg Abbott’s restrictions on transgender youth.

Leila Saidane, News Reporter

Around 300 demonstrators gathered at the Capitol on Tuesday to protest Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent directive to classify gender affirming procedures on minors as child abuse. 

“Abbott’s written directive, while not binding in law, is a blatant attack on trans kids and their right to express themselves,” said Courtney Maner, media and outreach liaison for March forTrans Youth. “It drives a wedge between kids and families who might be supportive but on that fence, because if your kid is going to come out to you, you could potentially be reported to (Texas Department of Family and Protective Services) if Abbott had his way.” 

Abbott’s letter, sent Feb. 22 and based on Attorney General Ken Paxton’s legal opinion, also encouraged health care providers and teachers to report the parents of children who undergo reassignment surgeries or take puberty-blocking drugs to the DFPS. Five state district attorneys of Texas’ largest counties, including Travis County, said they will not treat the procedures as abuse. Abbott was also sued by the American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday, which argued the directive violates the constitutional rights of transgender youth.

The rally, organized by March for Trans Youth, featured transgender individuals and their families who spoke about the importance of gender affirming care. The crowd wielded signs reading “protect trans youth” and “acceptance saves lives” and chanted “stop the hate” and “vote them out!”

Social work junior Deana Trautz attended the protest and wrote letters of support to transgender youth through the Transgender Education Network of Texas. 

“It’s important for people all throughout Texas to see us fighting for them,” Trautz said. “Trans people are everywhere in Texas, and they might not have the representation where they are. Getting a letter or getting to see a video of people protesting in another city can be really affirming and show that there’s people out here who are backing them in this really hard time.”

Uchenna Umeh, a pediatrician and mother to a non-binary young adult, described the rally as a practice of compassion toward trans youth.  

“All children, whether queer or not, need their parents’ support — more so if you have the governor and the government attacking you,” said Umeh, who spoke at the rally. “It’s not child abuse of the parents against their child, (but) it is dangerous and potentially life threatening to (withhold) gender affirmative care from those who go through gender dysphoria.”