Texas Mom Gives Emotional Testimony Defending Trans Son at Hearing on Controversial Bill
The proposal would make it illegal for parents to seek out gender-affirming medical care for their children
A Texas mom said she was taking a major risk by standing up for her son during a state Senate hearing this week on a new proposal that would bar gender-affirming medical care for children who are transgender.
"I'm terrified to be here today," said Amber Briggle, from Denton, whose Tuesday testimony widely circulated this week.
Briggle's son, Max, came out to her as transgender when he was 4 years old, she told lawmakers during a passionate plea for the state to not pass proposals that she said would block needed health care for transgender kids.
The state is currently considering passing two bills — S.B. 1646 and S.B. 1311 — which would make it illegal for parents to seek medical treatment for children who are transitioning.
The first bill would classify any parent seeking out gender-affirming medical care under "child abuse," according to The Austin Chronicle, while the second bill would ban physicians from providing such treatments.
A tearful Briggle told lawmakers that she was there to defend her son's medical needs — even though, she said, speaking out could lead to the state taking her son away under the new bills if they become law and criminalize her actions.
"I'm afraid that by speaking here today that my words will be used against me should S.B. 1646 or S.B. 1311 pass, and my sweet son whom I love more than life itself will be taken from me," Briggle said.
She run an LGBTQ advocacy group named in honor of her son, called Love to the Max, and was previously invited to the White House by President Barack Obama's administration for her work on transgender rights.
"Max is a bright, goofy, helpful, athletic, popular child, who loves cats, cartoons, and camping. He's also transgender," she writes on her website. "He doesn't have a political agenda by being transgender — he's just a kid, being true to himself."
Her son Max is "the most popular boy in 7th grade" and is loved by the family, their friends and their community, she said.
"This is possible because he has parents who affirm him and provide him with the support he needs," Briggle said in her testimony.
Briggle explained that when her son was younger, she "didn't understand then that [Max] was trans" and that she "only knew that he wasn't like most girls his age and that something inside him was hurting."
Providing Max with support — and gender-affirming medical care — has improved his life, she said.
"Taking that support away from him — or worse, taking him away from his family because we broke the law to provide that support — will have devastating and heartbreaking consequences," Briggle continued, choking up as she spoke.
Treatments that would be banned under the new law include puberty-suppression prescription drugs, medical procedures and cross-sex hormone therapy.
Hormone blockers, Briggle said, are "reversible, are not new, and are clinically proven to save the lives of the transgender children taking them."
Proponents of the bill, like the Republican Party's state executive committeewoman, Jill Glover, argue children are "unable to give informed consent" about these treatments, according to local TV station KVUE.
Other supporters of such bans maintain that the medical care is too extreme for kids to undertake. "When parents interject things that rob them of that innocence, and really robs them of a future, we have a problem," one Republican lawmaker backing the proposals said this week.
However, the bills' critics, such as Briggle and local LGBTQ advocates like Alicia Roth Weigel, have called them "ludicrous" proposals that could have a dangerous impact on transgender youth, according to the Chronicle.
During her testimony this week, Briggle said that she didn't want to let lawmakers pass the bill without hearing how it would impact kids across the state.
"If this bill becomes law," the mother told the group of senators, "I promise I will call every single one of you every time a transgender child dies from suicide to remind you that their lives could have been saved — but you chose not to."