Moms of trans kids are so tired. We can’t keep living in flight or fight mode. We need you.
I’m a Christian, a nurse, and a hard working, loving mom of seven children. One of them, my 11-year-old daughter Kai, is transgender. She’s happy and healthy, with a huge circle of friends and a supportive school in Austin.
I’m just like you — except that now my state wants to investigate me as a child abuser.
That’s right. Texas Governor Greg Abbott wants to criminalize me and my family, simply because we’re trying to provide a loving home for our trans daughter.
Abbott recently issued horrifying, unconstitutional orders directing our state’s office of Child Protective Services to investigate parents of transgender children for child abuse. The only one engaging in child abuse here is Abbott — and his equally cruel attorney general, Ken Paxton.
I had to leave my home of Pearland, Texas when my ultra-conservative family and megachurch refused to accept Kai’s existence as a transgender child. I used to be one of those ultra-conservative, uninformed people myself. But then I had Kai.
I learned that being trans is perfectly natural. I also learned that the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Psychological Association are all very clear about how to treat transgender children: with accepting, age-appropriate, and gender-affirming care.
I knew then that I had to do anything I could to protect Kai and help her to thrive the same as any child. We moved to Austin in search of a more affirming community, and we found one. But now we’re under attack from the state government.
Abbott’s order is blatantly unconstitutional and may or may not be enforced, but the damage is already widespread. People are afraid, our kids are targets, and we’ve been identified as people who hurt our children.
Unfortunately, our state is hardly alone. Just last year, lawmakers in 33 states introduced over 100 cruel, unscientific, and unconstitutional bills targeting trans kids and adults. They want the government to decide everything from what bathrooms kids use to what names they’re called. These cruel politicians even want to ban kids from receiving evidenced-based, medically necessary health care.
So my daughter and I, along with other trans kids and their moms, have testified and rallied and educated wherever we can, working against anti-trans bills in Texas and beyond. Kai and I have traveled the country talking to churches, faith leaders, practitioners, and politicians.
We’re working not just for our kids, but for yours too. All children deserve equal human rights — and the most love, the best education, the highest quality medical care we can give them. We’re fighting to secure those rights for all kids, whatever their gender, orientation, race, zip code, or family wealth.
We’re fighting for you too, and we ask that you join us. Please don’t wait until you have a transgender loved one to realize the truth about what it means to be transgender. Go now to reputable sources like your local chapters of PFLAG, Equality, and GLAAD, or any number of professional medical and psychiatric organizations.
Learn about the wonderful gender spectrum and how to support all children, no matter where they fall on it. Join us to beat back the discrimination and hatred and help spread love and understanding instead.
From the depths of my Southern heart, I plead: Join us, y’all. Our children need you, and we all need each other. Together we will win.
Kimberly Shappley is a Registered Nurse and the proud, loving mother of a transgender child in Austin, Texas. This op-ed was distributed by OtherWords.org.