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Tech companies, including several in game development, published an open letter condemning Governor Greg Abbott's policies targeting the families of transgender and nonbinary children.

Alissa McAloon, Publisher

March 11, 2022

3 Min Read

Over 60 companies that do business in the state of Texas have joined together with the Human Rights Campaign to condemn the state's recent slate of anti-LGBTQ+ policies, including recent attempts to criminalize providing gender-affirming care for transgender and nonbinary children as child abuse.

The open letter, published today in the Dallas Morning news and shared online by the HRC, opens "discrimination is bad for business" and spells out how recent legislation and policies targeting LGBTQ+ people harm families and prevent businesses from creating inclusive and safe environments for their staff.

Apple, Electronic Arts, Gearbox, Google, Meta, and Microsoft all signed the open letter, in addition to around 60 other major companies that do business in the state. In it, the companies implore leadership in Texas and in the United States as a whole to "abandon efforts to write discrimination into law and policy," and warn of the impact such policies have on both business and the lives of staff, customers, and their families.

"Our companies do business, create jobs, and serve customers in Texas," opens the letter. "We are committed to building inclusive environments where our employees can thrive inside and outside of the workplace."

"The recent attempt to criminalize a parent for helping their transgender child access medically necessary, age-appropriate healthcare in the state of Texas goes against the values of our companies."

It goes on to explain that policies targeting transgender youth and their families have become more frequent around the country, and that Texas' recent attempts to limit access to medically necessary, age-appropriate healthcare is in direct opposition to each company's values.

"This policy creates fear for employees and their families, especially those with transgender children, who might now be faced with choosing to provide the best possible medical care for their children but risk having those children removed by child protective services for doing so."

A list of the 60+ companies that signed the open letter.

The directive at the center of this letter came in late February, when Governor Greg Abbott issued a letter directing the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate situations where transgender children receive gender-affirming care as cases of potential child abuse. Abbott's directive backed a similar push from state attorney general Ken Paxton to argue that such care is classified as child abuse under existing Texas law.

While AG Paxton's declaration fixates on the topic of puberty blockers and gender affirming surgery, the HRC notes that both Paxton and Abbott's communications are a "fundamental misunderstanding about what transition looks like for young people". In these cases, the organization says the process is instead primarily about socially transitioning and collaboration with therapists, parents, and healthcare providers.

As we heard from game developers shortly after Texas passed legislation banning abortions within the state and criminalizing the act of helping a person access reproductive healthcare along those lines, restrictive laws and policies preventing access to healthcare can actively harm the lives of people living within the state, and make it more difficult for game developers to consider living and working in Texas's growing game industry space. Gearbox, one of the signers of today's open letter, particularly has a strong track-record of advocating against discriminatory legislation in Texas.

In addition to outcry from the wider LGBTQ+ community, Texas's anti-LGBTQ+ policies have been met with pushback from organizations like HRC, The Trevor Project, and the ACLU, with some citing research that shows gender-affirming care reduces rates of depression and suicide risk among trans youth. Governor Abbott's policies have likewise been condemned by the White House, who called the move a "dangerous [attack] to the health of kids in Texas and part of much larger trend of conservative officials cynically attacking LGBTQI+ youth to score political points," in a statement given to ABC News.

Per ABC News, a Texas court is set to hold a hearing today on the policy's enforcement.

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