By Nydia Reveles
My name is Nydia, which means nest; a safe place. I wasn’t raised in a nest-like environment, but I always hoped one day to create one for my own children. I have.
Sadly, however, I realized that this, while necessary, isn’t enough.
I watched with grief and terror as the support systems on which we thought we could rely were quickly dismantled as we continued to support my then 3-year-old in his non-conforming identity. While this experience was sad and traumatic all on its own, what was coming later would be even more terrifying.
On Feb. 22, 2022, my heart hit the floor as I read Gov. Greg Abbott’s letter to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to begin investigating loving and affirming families of transgender children, like my own, for child abuse.
Our governor weaponized state agencies for political gain at the expense of innocent, vulnerable children and their families. He directed what has been an already overwhelmed and dysfunctional institution to remove children from safe and nurturing homes to advance his agenda of demonizing and demoralizing the LGBTQ+ community and those of us who love them.
His directive served to fan the flames of fabricated “emergencies” designed to incite fear on baseless claims and gain points at the ballot box.
Fortunately, two days later on Feb. 24, El Paso County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal said her office would not follow those directives.
My family took a breath.
We followed the news intently, trying to keep up with the updates in legalese. Since then, we have been on a frightening roller coaster of intermittent threats and sighs of relief.
The threats to our family safety are traumatic and unwarranted. The state is terrorizing Texas families for theatrics while ignoring the real issues affecting families across the state.
In fact, according to the 2022 Kids Count Data Book, an annual report analyzing children’s well-being in our country by The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Texas ranks 45th in overall child well-being.
Rather than addressing these very real and substantial problems, Republican legislators in our state opt to distract voters by inciting hate with harmful and dangerous bills that threaten, instead of protect, Texas families.
In fact, the newly sworn-in 88th Texas Legislature has already introduced 35 bills attacking the safety, security, autonomy and overall well-being of my family and families like mine.
These bills directly contradict the recommendations of expert children’s health and well-being organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Academy of Family Physicians and countless other medical and social health organizations.
The state of Texas has become increasingly unsafe for families like my own. Many families have already fled out of state or overseas; others are hoping to be able to do so.
I believe our family’s well-being should not be determined by our ZIP code. Our safety and security should not be tied to the whims of demagogues. And so we choose to stay and fight.
Dear El Pasoans, won’t you join us?
Show up to local and state government meetings, including school board meetings, to voice your opposition to such policies.
Call or write you state legislators and others across the country
Speak out in defense of vulnerable families and let us know we are not alone.
Nydia Reveles is a homeschool teacher and helps to run the Liberal Friend and Allies Homeschool Group. She serves as equality fellow with Equality Texas for the 2022-2023 cohort.