Ken Paxton, the Texas attorney general, revealed recently that he believes providing gender-affirming medical care to minors should be considered child abuse under state law. In a statement, Paxton said that health treatments like puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and gender-affirming surgeries should be stopped and that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services “has a responsibility to act accordingly.”
The Texas attorney general said that he would do everything he could to protect those who may try to take advantage and harm young Texans. He gave this opinion in response to an inquiry from state Rep. Matt Krause. He is a Republican who asked if treatments for transgender youth could be considered child abuse.
When an attorney general gives an opinion, it is an interpretation of existing law, but it does not change the law.
This is an issue that has been discussed for some time now between Paxton, Texas Governor Gregg Abbott, and the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). The Texas State Legislature failed to pass a bill last year that would have made giving gender-affirming care to minors a felony equal to physical and sexual abuse as well as sex trafficking.
Paxton has argued in the past that gender-affirming care is experimental and minors are too young to consent to this kind of treatment. This position is not supported by medical organizations like the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Psychological Association.
Governor Abbot sent a letter recently that directed the DFPS to investigate several “so-called ‘sex change’ procedures.” He wrote that they are found to “constitute child abuse under existing Texas law.” The governor cited the attorney general’s opinion on the law.
Abbot wrote, “[I]t is already against the law to subject Texas children to a wide variety of elective procedures for gender transitioning, including reassignment surgeries that can cause sterilization, mastectomies, removals of otherwise healthy body parts, and administration of puberty-blocking drugs or supraphysiologic doses of testosterone or estrogen.”
He also noted that according to Texas law, there are reporting requirements on all licensed professionals who have direct contact with minors who may be experiencing this kind of abuse. The DFPS also has a duty to investigate the parents of a minor who is subjected to abusive gender-transitioning procedures, along with the facilities that are providing these procedures.
Sex reassignment surgeries are growing as transgenderism in children and teens is a growing issue. Texas is not alone in seeing this as abuse with minors. Last year, Arkansas became the first state to ban sex reassignment surgeries for minors. Along these lines, several states have now taken a position banning biological males from competing in female sports. Liberals may be pushing the issue to help their agendas, but someone has to be looking out for the kids.
Jaime Masters is the commissioner of the DFPS in Texas. She wrote that genital mutilation of a child in a reassignment surgery is “child abuse.” She said that this kind of “mutilation” could cause a “genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child.” She believes that minors lack the legal capacity to consent and that makes them vulnerable.
Adri Pèrez is the policy and advocacy strategist for LGBTQ equality at the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. Pèrez believes that Attorney General Paxton’s opinion is politically motivated and not legally binding. Pèrez, who uses gender-neutral pronouns, said that there is not a court in the entire country that has ever found that gender-affirming care constitutes child abuse, and this opinion will have “scary consequences” for transgender youth.
Many hope that Texas will hold the line on this issue and keep minors safe from life-altering care that has life-long consequences.