Of course, this is just the latest in a string of anti-trans legislation that has swept the country, and in particular, Texas, over the past few years. All this while trans kids are suffering: More than half of trans and non-binary youth seriously considered suicide in 2020.
But last week’s order was terrifying for moms like Amber Briggle, who has become an advocate for trans kids and their families in Texas. Scary Mommy reached out to Briggle to hear what this last week has been like in her household. Here, in her own words, are how she and her family are feeling right now, and what she wants you to know.
Last week I was frustrated and concerned and angry at these politicians for doing this to these families, but now this week I’m just fucking scared. The threats have escalated, CPS is investigating families even though they say they’re not but they are; it’s really scary. I’m a mess. I can’t stop crying. I barely slept in a week. I finally ate something for the first time in I don’t know how long. I’m just a mess. And I’m supposed to be the tough mom. I’m that Texas mom that cannot be shook and I’m really scared and I keep asking why aren’t people helping? Where’s the White House? Where’s the Equality Act? Where’s the media? Where’s the outrage? We can’t do this alone.
I mean families are fleeing the state as political refugees. [And] I can’t blame them. If it got to the point where the choice was to stay and have my kids put in foster care or to leave and keep my family intact, it’s a pretty easy choice. Logistically it would be a nightmare; my husband is a tenured professor and I’m a small business owner. But if that’s what we have to do for our family, that’s what we have to do.
But the more important question is: Why do we think the best way to solve this is to ask families like mine to leave? I think the bigger question is why isn’t America doing more to stand up for families like mine? My kid matters just as much as yours.
I think if more parents could put themselves into our shoes – it doesn’t matter if your kid is transgender or cisgender – this is not abuse to love them and follow doctor’s orders, and to be investigated as such is terrifying. Our foster care system is a fucking disaster. Rather than putting these CPS workers on these kids to make sure they’re getting the care they need, they’re driving an hour and half to investigate a nothingburger with a loving family. Kids will die, whether they’re trans kids dying by suicide cause this is what happens when we treat trans kids this way, or whether they’re kids in foster care who are not getting the attention they need from their case worker. It’s shameful.
My kids are doing not great right now. We’ve coached them. We’re super high profile. [We’ve told them] if we get reported to CPS, they can come to your school and they don’t have to ask me permission. They can take you out of class and ask you questions. So we’ve been instructing them, these are your rights. You don’t have to answer anything. You don’t have to get your picture taken, you can just say ‘I want to go back to class now,’ that’s it. You don’t have to talk to them. And that’s important. These are scary stupid conversations to have. They say they’re OK, I know they’re not. You know, you have that sense. They’re not OK.
I’m trying to get the word out. Where’s the fucking outrage America? These are children! These are well-adjusted, amazing, articulate, healthy, loved, and miraculous children and America has not paid attention. First thing I’d suggest people do is please call your senator and demand them to pass the Equality Act, which would expand on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to make sexual orientation and gender identity protected classes. And the next thing I’d ask is that they update their voter registration and vote in the primaries. If we could do those two things we could really make a difference in the lives of these kids.
This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
If you or someone you know is seeking help for LGBTQ+ mental health or safety concerns, call The Trevor Project‘s 24/7 Lifeline at 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386). You can also reach out for instant message or text message support via TrevorChat and TrevorText, respectively. For additional resources for trans people, call the Trans Lifeline at 1-877-565-8860. In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911.