Texas plans to investigate and potentially prosecute instances of giving children sex reassignment surgery as child abuse.
In a letter last week, state Governor Greg Abbott directed the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to investigate certain “so-called ‘sex change’ procedures” found to “constitute child abuse under existing Texas law.” Abbott cited an opinion by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
“[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,” Abbott wrote.
“Texas law imposes reporting requirements upon all licensed professionals who have direct contact with children who may be subject to such abuse, including doctors, nurses, and teachers, and provides criminal penalties for failure to report such child abuse,” he continued. “There are similar reporting requirements and criminal penalties for members of the general public.”
“Texas law also imposes a duty on DFPS to investigate the parents of a child who is subjected to these abusive gender-transitioning procedures, and on other state agencies to investigate licensed facilities where such procedures may occur,” he said.
Texas’ stance on some sex reassignment surgeries comes as transgenderism in children, teens, and in athletics is a growing issue among state governments. Last year, Arkansas became the first state to ban such surgeries for minors. A number of states have taken action to ban biological males from competing in female sports.
Paxton’s ruling follows an August DFPS finding that some transgender operations, when done on children, constitute child abuse. The DFPS ruling came after Abbott asked the agency to look into whether such surgeries fell outside of treatments allowable for gender dysphoric children and teens under Texas law.
“Genital mutilation of a child through reassignment surgery is child abuse, subject to all rules and procedures pertaining to child abuse. Such mutilation may cause a ‘genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child’ [according to Texas law],” DFPS Commissioner Jaime Masters wrote in a letter at the time. “This surgical procedure physically alters a child’s genitalia for non-medical purposes potentially inflicting irreversible harm to children’s bodies. Generally, children in the care and custody of a parent lack the legal capacity to consent to surgical treatments, making them more vulnerable.”
Masters noted in his letter that surgery on a child’s genitalia may be allowed and found medically necessary under a certain set of circumstances.
“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,” Masters said.
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