Abbott directs DFPS to investigate "abusive" gender-transitioning procedures on Texas children

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has directed the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to investigate reported instances of "abusive gender-transitioning procedures" done on Texas children.

Abbott sent a letter to DFPS earlier this week saying the law "imposes a duty on DFPS to investigate the parents of children subjected to gender-transitioning procedures, and on other state agencies to investigate licensed facilities where such procedures may occur."

The letter comes after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton released a formal opinion concluding that "performing certain ‘sex-change' procedures on children, and prescribing puberty-blockers to them, is 'child abuse’ under Texas law."

The procedures considered abuse under section 261.001 of the Texas Family Code according to Paxton and Abbott include:

  • Castration
  • Fabrication of a "penis" using tissue from other body parts
  • Fabrication of a "vagina" involving the removal of male sex organs
  • Prescription of puberty-suppressors and infertility-inducers
  • Mastectomies
  • Supraphysiologic doses of testosterone or estrogen

Abbott's letter also states that Texas law imposes reporting requirements on licensed professionals with direct contact with children, including doctors, nurses, and teachers, and criminal penalties for failing to report abuse. 

In August 2021, Abbott had previously directed DFPS to issue a determination on whether gender reassignment surgery constituted as child abuse.

In a letter to the governor, Commissioner Jaime Masters determined that "genital mutation of a child through reassignment surgery" constitutes child abuse because it may cause "a genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child".

"Genital mutilation of a child through reassignment surgery is child abuse," reads Commissioner Masters' letter. "This surgical procedure physically alters a child’s genitalia for non-medical purposes potentially inflicting irreversible harm to children’s bodies."

In the letter, Commissioner Masters also concluded that:

  • Allegations involving "genital mutilation of a child through reassignment surgery" will be promptly and thoroughly investigated and any appropriate actions will be taken.
  • Certain professionals who have cause to believe a child has been or may be abused must report that belief to DFPS within 48-hours after the professional first suspects the abuse
  • Failure to report this abuse is considered a Class A misdemeanor and punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine, or both. The intentional concealment of such abuse is a state jail felony

The letter also stated that gender reassignment surgery does not constitute abuse when medically necessary, outlining certain conditions for children:

  • Whose body parts have been affected by illness or trauma
  • Born with a medically verifiable genetic disorder of sex development, such as the presence of both ovarian and testicular tissue
  • Who do not have the normal sex chromosome structure for male or female as determined through genetic testing

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