The mother of a transgender boy made a powerful speech in front of Texas lawmakers this week, urging them not to pass legislation that would criminalize parents who allowed their children to receive affirming procedures.
"I'm terrified to be here today," the mother, Amber Briggle, told the Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs this week. "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."
Senate Bill 1646 defines different types of "abuse" that that should be illegal in Texas – including consenting to drugs or surgeries that would help a transgender person affirm their gender. Senate Bill 1311 would prevent liability insurance coverage for gender-affirming surgeries and treatments for certain children.
"If this bill becomes law, that, senators, is child abuse," Briggle said in her testimony against the bill. "And 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."
She said as a business owner, she had better things to do than to testify – but the committee deemed her son's "private medical care more important than COVID relief for women-owned businesses, or making public schools safer or fixing ERCOT," referring to the organization that operates Texas's electrical grid, which experienced widespread outages earlier this year.
"Honestly, these bills are a huge waste of time and tax dollars, but we're all here, so let's do this," she said. "When my son was four years old, he asked me if scientists could turn him into a boy. Briggle admitted that she "didn't understand" at first that her child was trans. "I only knew that he wasn't like most girls his age and that something inside him was hurting," she said.
"Like many of you, I thought he was asking for surgery, and I freaked out," Briggle said. Briggle said such gender-affirming surgeries are not even performed on minors, "and that there is a whole array of options available for transgender youth, including hormone blockers that are 100% reversible, are not new and are clinically proven to save the lives of the trans children taking them."
Texas Republicans have argued the surgery is a reason to ban gender-affirming healthcare for minors.
She revealed that her now-13-year-old is the "most popular boy in the seventh grade." She said this is possible because he "has parents who affirm him and provide him with the support he needs."
"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," she said.
Several other parents and trans children and adults testified in front of the committee this week. Briggle shared her testimony on social media, where it went viral.
She has also used social media to raise awareness about other anti-trans legislation in Texas, including newly-proposed #HB1399, which passed in committee Thursday night. Briggle said if fully passed, the bill would remove transitional health care from trans kids and she was "terrified."
Several other state are considering anti-trans legislation. Recently,testified in front of the Missouri House of Representatives emergency issues committee.
"I came here today as a parent to share my story," Brandon Boulware, the father of a transgender daughter, said. He urged lawmakers not to pass a bill that would require "students who participate in sex-separated athletic contests only be allowed to participate in those for the biological sex found on the student's birth certificate." Video of Boulware's testimony went viral on social media, with several high-profile people and organizations sharing it.