Written Testimony Opposing S.B. 6 – The Senate Committee on State Affairs

My name is Dr. Jennifer Feldmann, a pediatrician with Legacy Community Health, one of Texas’ largest non-profit community health centers serving 125,000 patients stretching from Houston to Beaumont.

As a physician, board certified in pediatrics and adolescent medicine, my work focuses on providing primary care for all teenagers and young adults.  It is my teenage transgender patients who are at the highest risk for suicide.

Four in 10 transgender youth– let me say that again:  four in 10 – attempt taking their own life.  If they’re living in hostile environments, their risk of suicide is eight times that of a typical teenager.  President Trump’s education secretary has expressed the same concerns when it comes to suicide for this population.

One patient, whom I will call Josh, drives more than 4 hours to see me. Josh, age 12, came into my care after an ER visit for an unsuccessful suicide attempt. After that incident, he disclosed to his mom that he is transgender. This means he was born female, but in his head and heart, is male.

His family acutely realized that they could have a dead child, or a living transgender son. While they had never heard of transgender, they loved their child and embraced him.  Now, Josh is a much happier person.

We know from medical research and countless real-life stories like Josh’s that death by deep depression and discrimination are avoidable. The antidote is acceptance – or at least not blatant discrimination. Letting them just live their lives is a good outcome.

SB6 would give permission for the pain and shame of being transgender to continue.  It puts a brighter bullseye on the backs of these kids, shining a light on their being different, simply because they are living their true selves.

Parents, schools officials, and elected leaders who lift up these kids – not tear them down with things like SB6 – erase the higher risk of suicide that plagues this community.

I hope that you can join me in this effort to save lives – and livelihoods – by opposing SB6.

Thank you.