Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has directed state agencies to undertake “prompt and thorough” investigations into so-called “sex change” surgeries and treatments to determine if such actions constitute child abuse, and can be prosecuted as such.
In his letter to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, the governor referenced a non-binding legal opinion put forward by state Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), who stated certain treatments for gender dysphoric minors — such as so-called “sex reassignment surgeries” and puberty blockers — “can legally constitute child abuse under several provisions” of state law, according to The Washington Post.
Paxton’s ruling comes after the DFPS issued a report in August of last year, which found some transgender surgeries, when performed on minors, constitute child abuse. DFPS issued its ruling after Abbott asked the state agency to investigate whether such procedures fell outside the perimeters of allowable treatments for gender dysphoric children and teenagers under Texas state law.
“Genital mutilation of a child through reassignment surgery is child abuse, subject to all rules and procedures pertaining to child abuse,” DFPS Commissioner Jaime Masters stated at the time. “Such mutilation may cause a ‘genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child’ [according to Texas law].”
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“This surgical procedure physically alters a child’s genitalia for non-medical purposes, potentially inflicting irreversible harm to children’s bodies,” the commissioner added. “Generally, children in the care and custody of a parent lack the legal capacity to consent to surgical treatments, making them more vulnerable.”
In his letter, Masters did carve out certain exceptions:
It may be warranted for the following conditions including, but not limited to, a child whose body parts have been affected by illness or trauma; who is born with a medically verifiable genetic disorder of sex development, such as the presence of both ovarian and testicular tissue; or who does not have the normal sex chromosome structure for male or female as determined through genetic testing.
As for Abbott’s latest directive, it is not yet clear if all the agencies across the state will follow his guidance.
Given Paxton’s ruling does not carry legal weight, some prosecutors and county attorneys have indicated they will not enforce the directive, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee (D) of the Houston metro area is accusing Abbott and Paxton of “ignoring medical professionals and intentionally misrepresenting the law to the detriment of transgender children and their families,” adding his office “won’t be participating in this political game.”
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