Why families facing anti-transgender persecution are moving to Colorado - freetxp

Why families facing anti-transgender persecution are moving to Colorado

She isn’t sure when, but someday soon her family will get in the car and travel from Houston to northern Colorado, where they’ll start a new life.

She’s a fourth-generation Texan and all her close relatives live near her. She’s only been to Colorado a few times, and her family has zero friends here.

But her eldest child, a 17-year-old boy, is transgender, and in Texas that now makes her a child abuser in the eyes of her governor, whose recent dictate has led to at least nine investigations of parents like her. Lawyers have advised she keep her name out of the news, lest she tip-off authorities.

“I just want to be able to have a moment of peace, of just enjoying my kids and enjoying living,” she said between deep sighs during a break from packing boxes for the move. “I want a normal family that just exists, without wondering if we’re going to get a knock on the door.”

It’s likely to be a record year for anti-trans legislation in the US The Human Rights Campaign charts nearly 300 existing or upcoming bills in American statehouses, up from 147 last year and 79 in 2020. Most of these bills concern bathroom access, participation in youth sports and health care.

Some newer policies, however, go a step further: Texas leaders have sought to criminalize adults who help children in obtaining gender-affirming treatment. A judge on Friday halted child abuse investigations in these cases, but the long-term future of the policy is unclear. Violators of a bill advanced this month in Idaho could face life in prison, and Idaho lawmakers are also pursuing criminal penalties for people who travel out of state to obtain certain medical care for transgender children.

This is why the Texas mother and others around the country are looking to Colorado as a safe haven. While parts of the US are becoming less welcoming and supportive of trans kids and adults, Colorado has spent years moving in the opposite direction.

Last year Colorado became the first in the nation to require some health insurance plans to cover gender-affirming care. The legislation last year updated state anti-discrimination statutes to make them gender-neutral, and in 2019 banned conversion therapy. Colorado allows people to easily change a gender marker on state-issued identity documents, and there are no bathroom bills or youth sports bills targeting trans kids here.

HOUSTON, TEXAS - MARCH 10: Katie Laird hugs her son Noah, 15, while posing for a portrait at their home in Houston, Texas on Thursday, March 10, 2022. (Photo by Mark Felix / Special to The Denver Post)
Katie Laird hugs her son Noah, 15, while posing for a portrait at their home in Houston, Texas, on Thursday, March 10, 2022.

“Horrifically wrong”

The Houston woman is hardly alone. Another mother from the same part of Texas, Katie Laird, is plotting a similar move. Her family plans to come to Denver this summer for an indefinite period of time.

On the day Laird spoke to The Post, she said she’d heard of four other families planning to leave Texas, and that she knew two that already left.

Laird’s son, Noah, is 15 years old and transgender, and for years she’s been a regular at the Texas statehouse for hearings on bills affecting trans kids, among others. She didn’t think it would get to this point, but she knows now, she said, she was “horrifically wrong.”

Noah used to practice martial arts competitively, and no longer does. That’s a result of pandemic stress and anti-trans sports laws, Laird said. As of this month, the hospital where Noah received gender-affirming care can no longer provide it to him.

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