June 24, 2022

Fresh Take: Amber Briggle on Supporting Trans Kids

Amber Briggle is an activist, speaker, and proud parent of her transgender son. In this episode, she discusses how to support trans kids in today’s political climate as well as her own journey parenting her son through his transition.

Amber Briggle and her family live in Texas. Amber is the mom of two kids, Max and Lulu, and on her website "Love To The Max," Amber shares the family's real stories and experiences as a trans-inclusive family.

Amber describes herself as "just a mom," but the events of the last few years have made her a powerful advocate for the rights of kids and families like her own. She was a founding member (and former national co-chair) of the “Parents for Transgender Equality Council”, part of the Human Rights Campaign. Amber currently serves as the “Equal Opportunity Issue” Chair for the League of Women Voters of Texas.

In this moving and illuminating episode, Amber talks about her experience parenting her transgender son and the breadth of emotions and experiences that come with it.

In this episode, Amber, Amy, and Margaret discuss:

  • Amber's son Max's transition journey
  • The best ways to support trans kids
  • The anti-trans legislation currently in effect and under consideration in the U.S.


NOTE: Since we recorded this episode, a lawyer for the state of Texas has confirmed that the child abuse investigation into the Briggle family has been lifted. A Texas judge has temporarily blocked the child abuse investigations of other parents of trans youth in the state, but those investigations remain in effect.


Here's where you can find Amber:

Her website: https://lovetothemax.net/

Facebook: /amberbriggle

Twitter: @mrsbriggle


Special thanks to our sponsors for this month:

Betterhelp online therapy is affordable, confidential, and effective! Give it a try and see if online therapy can help lower your stress. Get 10% off your first month at betterhelp.com/fresh.

Credit Karma helps you find low-interest personal loans that may well have lower interest rates than your credit cards do now! Head to creditkarma.com/loanoffers to see your personalized offers.

Faherty is a family-run brand making high-quality, timeless clothing with modern design and functionality. Head to fahertybrand.com/FRESH and use the code FRESH to snag 20% off.

Firstleaf is a no-brainer if you love finding and tasting new wine! Join today and you’ll get 6 bottles of wine for $29.95 and free shipping! Just go to tryfirstleaf.com/LAUGHING

KiwiCo projects make science, technology, engineering, art, and math super fun. Get 30% off your first month plus FREE shipping on ANY crate line at kiwico.com with the code MOTHERHOOD.

Ladder helps you find life insurance without the hassle! Go to ladderlife.com/laughing today to see if you’re instantly approved for up to $3 million in term life insurance.

Outschool helps kids explore their interests and discover new ones! Save $15 on your child’s first class at outschool.com/laughing with the code LAUGHING.

Peloton has workouts or everyone. And the Peloton Bike+ is now $500 less, its best price yet, including FREE delivery and setup! Visit onepeloton.com to learn more.

Prose now makes supplements personally tailored to address your specific cause of hair shedding. Get your free in-depth consultation and 15% off your custom hair supplements at prose.com/laughing

Shopify powers millions of businesses, from first sale to full-scale. Go to shopify.com/fresh for a free 14-day trial and get full access to Shopify’s entire suite of features.

StoryWorth is an online service that helps you and your loved ones connect through sharing stories and memories and preserves them for years to come. Save $10 off your first purchase at storyworth.com/whatfreshhell.




FT 84 Amber Briggle

Margaret: [00:00:00] Hello, everyone. And welcome to fresh take from What Fresh Hell: Laughing in the Face of Motherhood. This is Margaret 

Amy: and this is Amy. And today we're talking to Amber Briggle. She's a mom, she and her family live in Texas. Amber is the mom of two kids, Max and Lulu, and on her website. Love to the Max, Amber shares the family's real stories and experiences as a trans-inclusive family in Amber's work fighting for the rights of transgender and gender nonconforming people.

She was a founding member. And former national co-chair of the Parents for Transgender Equality Council, part of the Human Rights Campaign. Amber currently serves as the Equal Opportunity Issue Chair for the League of Women Voters of Texas. Welcome Amber. Hi, 

Amber Briggle: thanks so much for having me today. 

Margaret: Welcome.

We were just chatting before we started recording Amber, you also said mostly I'm just a mom is really the headline of your story. You have kind of come into this world of public life and public speaking kind of [00:01:00] accidentally, can you start by talking about that?


Amber Briggle: literally just a mom. Yeah, you're right. I mean, I'm not with the exception of, you know, a few years partnering with the human rights campaign to launch their parents for transgender equality council, which I'm no longer on today.

And that council is still, um, going strong, which I'm very happy for. But besides those kind of couple of years doing that, I've never really been a part of a, an official organization. I'm literally just a. And I have a fairly large profile, certainly in Texas, probably elsewhere in the United States, Texas is what I know best.

And it's not really because I'm remarkable or interesting it was just kind of through the luck or unluck of timing. I guess, so my son, who's going into ninth grade now transitioned halfway through first grade. This was back in 2015. This was before I am jazz, that jazz Jennings, her hit reality TV show on things on TLC.

Before that show came out before there was any sort of like affirming recommendations from organizations such as the American academy of pediatrics on how to [00:02:00] like best practices of working with trans kids. Like no one back then was talking about trans kids or how to support them. Because they just, weren't talking about trans kids at all.

And so when my son Max came out in first grade, how do I say this? I didn't make it a big deal because in our house, it really wasn't a big deal. Like he changed his name and his pronouns, but nothing about him really significantly had changed other than the fact that he just got like instantly happier and more confident and like could eat and sleep again and pay attention in school.

Like, so it really, we didn't really make it a big deal in our house. We told the people who needed to know, so that. Max could feel more comfortable being out in the world. He wasn't going to be dead named or misgendered by well-meaning strangers. Like now that everyone was up to speed on how to address him.

Right. But we really didn't make it a big deal because it wasn't a big deal. It was about a year later when actually after marriage equality had passed that summer, that became the law of the land in summer of 2015 far. Right. Extremists started coming after.

Trans kids. And so we were kind of thrust [00:03:00] into this in, especially in Texas, which is kind of arguably, you know, ground zero for a lot of these anti-trans bills and this anti-trans rhetoric. And I just kind of found myself in this battle with the, a candidate for sheriff who was posting some pretty awful things on his Facebook page about what he would do to a trans woman.

If he saw one in a bathroom that he thought wasn't the right one for her. And it just kind of took off from there. The news got wind of that.

We were suddenly in the news. Then I was speaking at press conferences. Then I was testifying down in Austin. Then I was part of the human rights campaign. It was just, it just kind of like from the moment that I got into that Facebook fight with the sheriff until the end of the year, about eight months later, when I was at the Obama white house.

Being honored for my efforts to fight bullying. Like that whole thing was a blur. And that was back in 2016. Now six years later, you know, my son is, you know, as happy as he is ever been. He's the most popular kid in middle school, you know, he's just thriving at everything that he does. I'm so honored to do this work and at the same time, so very, very tired.

I [00:04:00] think<laugh>, you know, like that sounds right. Yeah. But as moms, it's our duty, it's our responsibility to fight for our kids. I didn't choose this fight. This. Shows me I'm tired, but I'm 

Amy: tireless. Amber, can we go back if you don't mind to the beginning of Max's story, because parents who don't have a, a gender nonconforming child, I think, might think that this would be something that was very out of the blue and shocking, but in your case, which I think is the typical story of a gender nonconforming child, they are.

insistent consistent. Persistent. Can you tell us a little bit about how this played out, why this wasn't a big deal for you when your child changed their pronouns 

Amber Briggle: in first. Yeah, it was a big deal because I knew nothing about it. and I, I just knew that I needed to help him, but it also wasn't a big deal because it seemed like the natural course of things for him.

So I remember really clearly, one day we were coming home from preschool. He was about. Maybe two and a [00:05:00] half, like he had just learned how to like put words together in sentences. And I was praising him that day on the way back from preschool for being such a good girl. And from the back seat, he was adamant.

He's like, I'm not a girl, I'm a boy. And I like Spider-Man and I'm like, well, that's cool. Girls can like, Spider-Man. You know, like I like Spider-Man, I think he's really cool. Like, let's talk about how you don't have to play with Barbies and my little pony in order to be a girl. Right. And so I was like trying to like, come at it from this like very feminist sort of perspective, like let's redefine girly together.

Also a good thing. a very good thing. Absolutely. Absolutely. But it just, that was just kind of one piece of the puzzle, right? It was like when he was four years old, he asked me if scientists could turn him into a boy, I didn't know. What that meant, but he was very sincere in his question. I had some research to do, and at that time there was nothing out there that would've been a decade ago.

What I didn't know then is what I know now, which is that gender identity and gender expression are very different. Things. Right. So gender identity is who you are and gender expression is how you present yourself [00:06:00] to the world. And so I thought that if I gave him the space to just cut his hair in more different clothes, um, he could just be a tomboy, right.

Because his gender expression was more masculine, but his gender identity, isn't the girl. Right. So tomboy. Know that they're girls. Right. And so, and I really try to just like wrap my brain around, like, okay, this kid doesn't wanna have long hair and sundress anymore and we need to get out the door. So what do you want to wear?

I don't care. Put a hat on your head. It's fine. And so we got to a place Max's dad and I, we got to a place where like, okay, like he can cut his hair. Like he can wear basketball shorts. That's fine. And we thought that we had kind of come to a good place with that. He did seem. Feel more comfortable in the way he was presenting himself to the world at that time.

But once he got to school, you know, everything is gendered. You know, boys line up in this line, girls line up in this line, all the teachers are Mister and misses. So and so like it's very, very gendered. And that's when we started noticing that things just really were still very. Challenging [00:07:00] for him. You know, he is definitely a rule follower like this kid, you know, I've always kind of joked.

Like he could raise himself. Like he was always like, even as a baby, like he wasn't, you know, getting into trouble or putting things in his mouth. Like he just knew better, you know, he's always been a rule follower. So then when he started having these like disciplinary things, At school, like he just wasn't paying attention.

He was like hiding under the desk when it was time to line up in the boys' line or the girls' line. Right. He just didn't wanna line up in any line. Right. So he'd like hide, you know, he wasn't listening at home or at school, he wasn't eating, he wasn't sleeping like six year olds should not be losing weight.

Right. Like full stop there's something going on. And this was, you know, my husband and I had tried for years. To help support him and feel happy. Like we just wanted him to be happy and nothing was working. And so it was one night before he, shortly before he turned seven, uh, one night before bed, I just, I sat him down and I was like, you know, what's going on at school?

You know, I feel like you're just, you [00:08:00] know, you're not yourself anymore. I'm like, do you, I, I had a feeling, this conversation was one that we were gonna have to have. I just had really kind of. Postpone it kept kicking the can. I just didn't wanna have this conversation cuz I knew it was gonna change everything, but I sat him down and I was like, are you a boy?

Should I be calling you my son? Like, do you wanna have a different name? And he's like, yep. All of that. And you know, he'd been trying to tell me his whole life and I just, I wasn't listening. So that night, I just, I intentionally just really listened to him and the bless his heart, the sweet kid, you know, and I asked him, I'm like, are you a boy?

And do you wanna go by a different name? Right? Like he just looked at me like both with just like this excitement in his eyes. Like finally I'm being heard, but also. Kind of makes me wanna cry talking about this also like, almost like feeling like embarrassed, like, because he was asking too much, like asking his mother to see him as his authentic self was like too much to ask.

Right. It was obviously very emotional for me. So I just told him what I always told him is that baby, you can grow up to be [00:09:00] anything you wanna be. I'm always gonna love you full stop, like unconditionally. And I kissed him and I sent him off to bed and I told my husband what just happened. We just decided at that point forward, we were just gonna love this kid unconditionally and do everything we could to fight for him.

Amy: Do you feel like the two of you were on the same path? I mean, because we've had other guests on the show talking about how it can be hard to be in a different place than your spouse and acceptance of any way in which your kid is far from the tree, so to speak. And were you guys able to be in the same 

Amber Briggle: page?

Yeah, we are. I would say that my husband, Adam, it took him a little longer to get on board with this. Not because he was. Transphobic or any, like, he just didn't know, like, right. So like, you know, Max and a, like, Adam's the fun parent. Like he's the one that the kids go to when they wanna play. I'm the parent that the kids come to when they wanna talk.


Margaret: that sounds 

Amber Briggle: familiar. Yeah. So Max and Adam had like never had this conversation. All of this was happening with me. And so Adam was kind of getting it secondhand, but when I told [00:10:00] him what happened, he's like, you know, I don't wanna speak for him, but from what I saw is that he just, he looked very.

Not surprised, but also concerned, right? Because like what happens next? Like, okay, now we have this child he's in first grade, we've gotta learn new name and new pronouns. Cuz our brains are wired to talk about him with different name and different pronouns. Like we've gotta get on board with that. Gotta get everyone else on board with that.

Gotta talk to his school. I don't know what happens next. You like, how is he gonna be in the world? 

Margaret: What happens next is fascinating and where we wanna go. So let's take a break. We're talking to Amber Briggle bril and we're going to talk about what's next right after this.

so you've had this realization as a family or not really a realization, but a kind of moment of understanding as a family. And mm-hmm , it sounds like for everyone, it was a, maybe a difficult or confusing moment, but in general, a real positive, things start to fall into place [00:11:00] and. We talked to a wide range of parents, we've had so many parents talking about different things that were going on with their kids and a very similar journey, right?

 Where you have a moment where you sort of unlock something it's challenging. It's a new truth that you have to sort of synthesize, but fundamentally it's a moment of understanding for everybody.

Yeah. And then I think a lot of people sort of worry that. Oh, the truth is going to be a painful part of it. But the truth is already there for whatever's going on with our kids. There are some fundamental truths that might be frightening to us, but that doesn't change the fact that they're true.

Mm-hmm . And so you have this moment of understanding this truth and then what happens next? 

Amber Briggle: What happened next was like, it was both like as ordinary and miraculous as the sun coming up every day. Right. Like we all saw this was coming. Like we all kind of know and expect that the sun is gonna come up tomorrow.

And then when you see that [00:12:00] sunrise, it's just like, Breathtaking. It's like, so renewing it's so beautiful. That's what happened next. Like I know many parents and trans kids from really around the world and a lot of them talk about, and this is their experience, this, this not to belitle their experience.

This is not my experience, but it, for many of them, their experience is a sense of like, Mourning or sadness or grieving for the child that they thought they had, that they no longer think that they have. Right. They imagine walking their daughter down the aisle one day in her wedding, and now they have a son.

Right. And like, how do you reconcile that? That was never my experience. That was not my husband's experience. We were. Relieved mm-hmm we were because for like, for five, six years, we were trying so hard to keep this kid happy. He was wilting, he was fading. He was pulling away and that wasn't the child that we knew as a toddler.

Right. And so, After years and years of trying everything [00:13:00] else, just to finally just like, just simply changing his name and pronouns and accepting him as her son. That was it. That was the magic key that unlocked everything. It was like someone came into our house and like, Tore open all the windows and all the curtains and just like let in the fresh air and sunshine.

And like, everything was like happy and bright and joyful and colorful. 

Margaret: Again, it's like that frozen scene open up the gates, right where they're opening the house for the first time. Exactly. It was 

Amber Briggle: just joyful. So what happened next was instant joy for and relief. For literally all of us, we had a meeting a few weeks later with Max's teacher and principal and, and school counselor.

Cause we were freaked. We're like, okay, so he's in first grade and he's trans like how's it going? And they're like, he's fine. Like the kids don't care. Like he hasn't lost any friends. Like they still wanna race him to the end of the playground. And back, like, there were some questions about like, wait, I thought you were a girl.

Are you a boy? And Max would just be like, I'm a boy. And they're like, cool. Like wanna race me? I mean, kids don't [00:14:00] care. Right? They just don't care. And we have the benefit too of him, you know, he grew up in the school, like he'd been going to school with these kids, even, you know, pre-transition so they all knew him and loved him.

Anyway. Then he went off to middle school with all this like, same group of friends. And as I, you know, I said earlier, like he's the most popular kid in eighth grade. Like everyone wants to hang out with him. He plays a dozen different musical instruments. He's on honor roll. Like he is thriving. And that is what I wish.

More people would fight for, instead of, I think we're seeing a lot of anti transgender legislation in like over half the states in this country, either bills that have passed or bills that are currently pending in your state legislatures. And that includes, you know, not just red states like Texas, but blue states, like, you know, Minnesota and Washington state and like it's everywhere.

And I think what these politicians are missing is that, you know, taking away resources for trans kids, Sports teams, bathrooms, [00:15:00] medical care, right? Taking away resources for trans kids. Isn't gonna make kids less trans it's just gonna make trans kids miserable. Right. And there's, I mean, there's a lot of data out there that shows that when trans kids are loved and affirmed and supported in their gender identity and given the resources that they need.

To be their authentic selves. Like their suicide rate drops, like their mental health is the same as their cisgender peers. Like they, and they thrive. And my son is a perfect example of this. And I feel like these types of stories are not shown in the news. If trans kits are given any air time in the news, which they're not.

But if they're given any air time in the news, it's these like horrible, heartbreaking, Stories, which absolutely need to be told because people need to understand what's happening to trans kids in the persecution that they're facing. Right. But if that's the only story that you're telling, then what I fear is happening is that when these kids come to their parents and say, I'm not the kid, you think I am right?

Like I'm trans or I'm [00:16:00] non-binary my fear is that these parents then are only seeing. Negative stories about being transgender and that they're pushing back against their child. Not because they're transphobic, but because they fear for their child's future. And that is devastating. That's heartbreaking.

And these kids deserve so much better. The 

Amy: kids who are getting like your son who are getting gender affirming care are living their best lives are happy and well adjusted. And I imagine in many cases, like they wanna be left alone. They want to be affirmed in their gender. They don't necessarily want to live in a world where they constantly have to talk about like surprise my gender that I'm affirming is not the gender that I was born with.

And so the kids who are. Succeeding the most at this are not, as you're saying the face of it is the kid who is not getting gender affirming care 

Amber Briggle: and who is struggling. Right. You're absolutely right. And those, again, like those stories need to be told, like, people need to understand that, you know, families like mine, like we are literally under a CPS investigation right [00:17:00] now because of the governor and a political agenda that the right wing has.

Right. Like people need to know this. And they need to understand, as you said, Amy, that when trans kids have the resources they need just like cisgender kids, like give kids what they need. They will grow up to be amazing. Right. But if you take away their healthcare, their sports team, you know, their ability to go to the bathroom at school, literally their parents taking away their parents taking away their families as what's.

Trying to what's happening here in Texas, right? Like that of course is going to set these kids up for an extreme hardship and heartache and suicidality and depression and anxiety and drug use and alcohol abuse. Like they are actively harming these kids. And if I can, just for a second talk about, as a parent of two school age, kids in Texas, one of whom is in fourth grade, right?

Like we spent this past year. Talking about protecting kids by banning pride flags and books, instead of passing laws that could [00:18:00] actually save their lives. 

Margaret: I wanna talk a little bit more about the political element of this.

We'll be right back with Amber Bri. So Amy was saying, and I think that's right kids wanna be kids and they don't wanna be a political statement. They wanna be a kid in ninth grade or a fourth grader on their sports team. They don't want to be necessarily changing the world, but the world is sort of.

Coming after them. And you've talked a little bit about CPS, people who are not totally dialed into this issue may not understand, why is CPS investigating you? You seem like a lovely mom and a 

Amber Briggle: nice lady. I'm thanks. I'd like to think I'm a lovely mom and a nice lady. Yeah. So CPS, we are under an active CPS investigation.

There are at least nine families here in Texas under investigation, and these are all parents of transgender kids. This started last year during the last legislative session here in Texas. So here in Texas, our state legislature meets every other year. [00:19:00] For 140 days and all they have to do is pass a budget.

There's always something else that they want to try and do. And so last year in 2021, there were 40 anti LGBTQ bills filed in Texas, almost all of them about trans kids. One passed in a special session because governor Abbot kind of changed the rules on the committee about where this like sports bill could be heard.

We had done a really good job lobbying and advocating for these kids and, and fighting. Some of the bills that they wanted to pass in 2021 were bills that would criminalize gender affirming care and put parents at trans kids in prison for 10 years and take not just their transgender child, but all of their children out of their care, put them into a broken foster care system where children are literally dying in Texas.

Right. That was their solution. I guess those bills failed. Thank goodness. But then in February, Of this year during the primary season here in Texas, [00:20:00] the state attorney general, Ken Paxton, who. By the way my family had over for dinner six years ago, specifically to meet my transgender child who literally sat down at our table and ate a carefully prepared meal and broke bread with my children.

Six years later, writes an opinion saying that families like mine should not exist. That opinion was given to Greg Abbott, who then basically, I guess for lack of a better word, made an executive order or some sort to demand that DPS department of family protective services investigate all calls made to them about parents of transgender kids.

They needed to investigate. Now I naively thought that was never gonna happen to me. Because if we haven't had a CPS worker come on, knock on my door. After the six years of advocacy, what are the odds that's gonna happen today? I should have known better. I was walking around with a target on my back. So the memo came from app from the AGS office, came out on Tuesday.

The order from Abbott came out on Wednesday on that Thursday, a call was made to CPS to investigate me. Could have come from anybody. I have no [00:21:00] idea. I have my suspicions that I'm not gonna talk about publicly, but yeah, it literally could have come from anyone anywhere in the country, 

Margaret: It could have been somebody who saw you on Facebook. I mean, whether or not it's somebody in your circle, it could have been, anybody 

Amber Briggle: could have been anybody, anybody in the country could have called CPS. That call was made.

Less than 24 hours after Abbott directed CPS to investigate, I didn't get the message. They had actually called my office. I didn't get the message. Cuz we had had an ice storm in Texas on that Thursday and I just didn't make it in on Friday. Then it was the weekend I got into the office on Monday. And there was a sticky note with a name and a number saying, you know, uh, it was urgent and private.

And so I picked up the phone thinking it was another parent of a trans kid who was under investigation. And when I introduced myself, she cut me off. She said, I'm so and so I'm with CPS and I'm 30 minutes away. And I lost it. And so in that 30 minutes, I had to call my husband. I had to find a lawyer. I had to pull [00:22:00] myself together and we're still under an investigation.

And the timing is not coincidental. As I said, this happened during early voting of the primary, both of which, you know, so Ken Paxton, the attorney general actually didn't even get 50% of the vote in the primary and, and was forced into a runoff. So we kind of know why that opinion was issued when it was.

Abbot at that time was trying to out crazy people who were even crazier than he was further on the right. I mean, he won his primary Handly, but he didn't wanna be owned by right wing extremists, you know, in the primaries. And so this is purely political, a hundred percent of the way. I mean, why would a parent like me who literally had the attorney general come over to her home?

Six years ago only now be under investigation, her child abuse. And when the CPS worker came to my home, two days after that initial meeting to interrogate my children in their living room without my husband or I present there, that was terrifying. Before she left, she looked right at my husband. I mean, she said.

Clearly you're doing [00:23:00] something right. Your children are wonderful. And she left. That was March 2nd. We are recording this now June 2nd, three months later, right. Our case is still not closed. We are still under an open investigation and it's absolutely terrifying knowing that I can do everything right. I can.

Everything that my children will never want for anything they are loved and fed and in after school activities and are, you know, get good grades in school, my children will want for nothing. And I am under investigation for being a bad mother. And what I want your listeners to understand is that this doesn't.

End with trans kids. It starts with them. If the government can weaponize itself against and tear families apart, we are a pro-family nation. Like, you know, we're, pro-family like if we love kids, we love moms. Like this is who we are as a nation. And if we can let these politicians get [00:24:00] away with this and come after trans kids, they're gonna have to find a new target next.

 Once they can come after trans kids and be successful at it, they're coming after your kids.

Next, , my kids rights matter just as much as yours. And we have to stand up and fight for these kids and keep their families together. And because if we don't your family's next. Plain and simple, it's a matter 

Amy: of parents being able to provide care for their children and decide what's right for their children.

I mean, in a country, I think that we, we profess freedom for us to make our own decisions. As long as they, you know, don't harm people outside our F. Family. These, the ostensible notion behind this is that these kids are being protected. They're not being protected. They're gonna be, if they were removed from care, they're not gonna get gender affirming care in foster care.

They're not going to be safe in foster care. And do you think that these bills, it must leads to sort of more anti trans sentiment in more everyday? 

Amber Briggle: Yeah. I mean, it absolutely does. And you know, these bills don't [00:25:00] have to pass in order for the damage to occur. So the Trevor project, which is a, an LGBTQ suicide prevention hotline, the Trevor project has really clear data that show that when anti-trans gender rhetoric is.

Surging in a particular area, say like North Carolina in 2016, passed a statewide, uh, bathroom bill, right calls from North Carolina to the charter project spiked. Right? When Trump attempted to ban trans people from the military calls nationwide spiked when Houston overturned their equality ordinance, the hero ordinance, I wanna say that was 2014, 2015.... Calls from Houston.

Spiked to the charter project. So there's a very direct correlation to anti transgender rhetoric and suicidality. Right. And actually in 2021, you know, it talked about the legislative session. Uh, here in Texas, we had multiple special sessions to try and pass things like. The abortion ban that we have the voter suppression laws that we have, the anti transgender sports bill that we now have.

You know, we had [00:26:00] multiple special sessions trying to pass doesn't hurt Texans. It harms Texans. The data from the Trevor project showed that Pauls. From January to October in 2021 were 150% higher in Texas than they were in 2020. Well, what happened in 2020 from January to October, there was a global pandemic, right?

Schools were shut down. There's no extracurriculars. You don't get to have Christmas at grandma's. You don't get to have your birthday party. You know, there's no boy Scouts. There's no girls. There's nothing. There's no sleepers. There's nothing. And yet one year later calls a to a suicide prevention hotline or a hundred for 50% higher.

Like these bills. Are more detrimental to these kids, mental health than a freaking global pandemic. So Amy, like the bills don't have to pass. The rhetoric is out there and it is harming kids and we have to fight back and push back to save their lives. 

Margaret: I think when we hear the phrase, gender affirming care, sometimes people don't understand exactly what that means.

 Can you talk a little bit about the Genesis [00:27:00] program at the Texas hospital and how in these same decisions that doctors are being told, you are not allowed to treat these children medically, the government is suddenly gonna come above you and make a decision. It's not banning any specific procedure. It's saying doctors cannot counsel and treat trans kids. Listen, there may be some listeners who have only heard about trans in like these kind of headlines that are fantastic and they either think they have an opinion about it, or they think it doesn't affect them at all.

And I think, again, this issue with healthcare is so important for people to understand that a government is coming in and telling doctors what they can and can't do. 

Amber Briggle: Yeah, absolutely. And I wanna just briefly talk too about what gender firming care looks like. Right. So, you know, we hear a lot of, you know, fear mongering of like, you know, chemical castration of six year olds and like, you know, like sex reassignment surgery for minors, that's literally not happening.

And it's really important that people understand that, you know, so when Max transitioned in first grade, we cut his hair and changed his pronoun. [00:28:00] Right. It's called a social transition. It's only later when kids approach the age of puberty when they have the option of undergoing a medical transition, which typically, you know, includes hormone blockers, which by the way are use for cisgender children at an even younger age.

To block precocious puberty quite frankly, like they're just like we need my child needs medication. Let's provide it for them. Right. And this care, this medical care is under a doctor's supervision. It is supported by literally. Every major medical association in the country, the American academy of pediatrics, the American heart association, the American medical association, like pediatric endocrine society.

Like literally all of them understand that this is life saving. The gender affirming care is life saving best practice care for these trans kids. Right. The Genesis program in Dallas is a comprehensive model. So they have not only, you know, the doctors there who can, you know, prescribe the medication if needed, but they also have social workers, psychiatrists OBS, like it's [00:29:00] all under the same roof.

And, you know, as a cisgender woman, like it's like I've got his go see all my different doctors in all the different places. And sometimes they talk to each other and sometimes things don't end up in my chart. And you know, it's hard to get everyone talking together about my care. You know, as a whole human, 

Margaret: anyone who has gotten healthcare has experienced that.


Amber Briggle: right. And what's really, what's really remarkable about this particular program. The Genesis program is that it's all under one roof. And so they get together, you know, at these weekly meetings around the table and, you know, Talk about their patients and talk about this care. It's amazing. And it's the only clinic like it in the entire Southwest.

There are people who travel for hundreds of miles to go to this one clinic because it's so outstanding. There have been reports in the news that either governor Abbot himself or someone from his office called the Genesis clinic and pressured them to close. They did partially back in November, they weren't taking new patients anymore.

Patients who were already undergoing care, there could [00:30:00] continue to receive their care, but they weren't taking any new patients. And this is again, life saving care. The lead doctor there, Dr. Humana Lopez sued the hospital, and there's now the temporary injunction to allow the hospital, to see these children again, to see new patients that formal hearing is gonna be heard in April of 2023.

Is questionable timing. I I'm worried about that because it's gonna be right in the middle of the legislative session. and we're gonna be fighting this all over again. And I, I hope that what's happening politically doesn't affect what will happen in that courtroom, but yes, Margaret, the government to come in and tell doctors how to do their job, to tell parents how to raise their children.

And this is mind you, this is the same party that, you know, fought against. vaccine mandates, right? Because it's bodily autonomy. And now that same party is passing bills about what you can and can't do with your body. If you're transgender, right.

This is the same party that you know, is fighting, you know, parental rights. In schools, but then taking away parental rights at home, both of my kids are in [00:31:00] therapy. Like, you know, I can't sleep. My hair's been falling out. they're doing damage purposely to families like mine just to win elections.

And I'm just, we can do so much better. We deserve better as Americans. 

Amy: Tell us, Amber, for people who are listening, who want to be allies and advocates, what's a good way to get started. 

Amber Briggle: Make noise. I would ask people to make noise about this. We didn't get here overnight, right? CPS didn't just one day show up at my front door, demanding to interrogate my children.

This was years of neglect. By the media and by the American public, not knowing what was happening, right. We let them get away with bathroom bills. We let them get away with religious refusal bills. We let them get away with sports bills. We're letting them get away with medical bills. No, one's holding these elected officials accountable because no one's paying attention.

So I'm begging people. I've been screaming for help for six dang years. Please pay attention to these kids [00:32:00] and make noise, because again, it doesn't end with trans kids, it just starts with them. Right. So that's the first thing. The second thing is I would ask you to please call your state Senator and push for passage of the equality act.

The equality act would expand on the civil rights act of 1964 and make LGBTQ people also a protected class so that you cannot discriminate against them. It has passed the house. It obviously has support in the white house, but it's stalled in the Senate. So if we can pass the equality act, that would be a really great way.

To fight for equality, not just for trans kids, but for all LGBTQ people. And then lastly, I'd say if you're a parent, you know, listening to this whose child is transgender, I just want you to know that you're not alone. I know that when Max came out, I thought I was literally the only person on the planet with a trans kid.

And that's simply not true. It's about as common as being a redhead. These trans kids are everywhere. And so you need to know that you're not alone and that loving and affirming your kid is [00:33:00] absolutely the very best thing you can do for them. I would rather have a happy, thriving living son than a dead daughter full stop.

Right. And I think any parent listening to this would agree. So know that you're not alone. And that your kids are just as remarkable and beautiful and miraculous today as they were on the day they were born. You know, when you were pregnant or looking to adopt, you probably didn't care if you were having a boy or girl.

So what does their gender identity matter today? Right. Just love your kids unconditionally. 

Amy: This has been an incredible conversation, Amber, and I think that you've helped. So many of us understand the issues around this more clearly. And I just wanna thank you. Talking to us today. 

Amber Briggle: Yeah. Thanks so much.

This is a great opportunity. I appreciate it. Thank you.