Macron also called Putin’s assertions that he intends to “denazify” Ukraine “a falsehood” and a “insult to the history of Russia and Ukraine, to the memory of our elders who fought side by side against Nazism” in his speech.
Putin disagreed “with several aspects” stated in Macron’s speech, according to the Kremlin news service, and he disputed that Russia was responsible for the bombardment of major Ukrainian cities, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Macron is the only Western leader who has maintained regular public communication with Putin since Ukraine’s invasion, in what the French presidency has described as an effort to keep the door to real dialogue open. Putin and Macron also spoke on Monday and Thursday of last week.
Macron had led Western efforts to avert an escalation of the issue through diplomatic channels prior to the invasion, flying to Moscow last month to maintain Putin’s engagement. According to the French president, the two leaders have spoken over a dozen times since mid-December. Macron has also kept in touch with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on a regular basis, most recently on Thursday after his call with Putin.
“These announcements make clear that rather than weaponizing child protective services against loving families, child welfare agencies should instead expand access to gender-affirming care for transgender children,” he said.
Children, their parents, and their doctors should “have the right to make the medical decisions that are best for each young person — without politicians getting in the way,” he continued.
“Transgender children bring fulfillment to their parents, joy to their friends, and are made in the image of God,” he said. “Affirming a transgender child’s identity is one of the best things a parent, teacher, or doctor can do to help keep children from harm, and parents who love and affirm their children should be applauded and supported, not threatened, investigated, or stigmatized.”
U.S. Health Secretary Xavier Becerra branded the Texas government’s actions “discriminatory and reprehensible” in a separate statement released on Wednesday. He urged anyone who is the subject of a child welfare inquiry as a result of the governor’s instruction to call the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, which enforces civil rights laws that protect people from health-care discrimination.
“HHS will take immediate action if needed,” he said. “I know that many youths and their supportive families are feeling scared and isolated because of these attacks. HHS is closely monitoring the situation in Texas, and will use every tool at our disposal to keep Texans safe.”
According to Becerra’s announcement, the department issued guidance to state child welfare agencies that “makes it clear that states should use their child welfare systems to advance safety and support for LGBTQI+ youth, which importantly can include access to gender-affirming care,” as well as patient privacy guidance that states that “health care providers are not required to disclose private patient information related to gender-affirming care” despite the governor’s order. His statement further stated that both withholding health treatment based on gender identity and preventing medical professionals from delivering such care based on gender identity are prohibited.
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The announcement by the Biden administration has come as a great comfort to Texas parents of transgender children, who said the governor’s edict had caused their family stress and anxiety.
Some of them were also hoping for a response from Biden, who addressed them directly “younger transgender Americans” during his State of the Union address Tuesday night: “I will always have your back as your president,” he said.
Linzy Foster, an Austin resident with an 8-year-old trans daughter, said after Biden’s speech that the president’s statements lacked “teeth” and that Texas families “demand strong, definite, aggressive action.”
Foster said on Thursday that the administration’s measures prove that his support for trans students is “no longer lip service, but that he is talking the walk.”
“Knowing that the state of Texas may still come after my family, but that I can now contact the Office of Civil Rights to report it and they will assist and ‘take immediate action,’ allowed me to actually get some sleep last night,” she said.