Colman Domingo
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Texas Calls Gender-Affirming Surgery for Trans Youth 'Child Abuse'

Texas Governor Greg Abbott

Texas lawmakers and officials continue to take aim at trans youth. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services released a letter on Thursday calling gender affirmation surgery for legal minors “child abuse,” following a request from the state's governor.

Gender-affirmation surgery in minors is rare. Instead, a focus of gender-affirming health care is usually spent on social transitioning for the child or the use of reversible hormone blockers, reported The Texas Tribune.

Research has even shown that hormone blockers have a positive health impact in children that includes increased emotional well-being.

However, in the letter, Commissioner Jaime Masters writes, “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.’”

Masters adds that gender affirmation surgery “physically alters a child’s genitalia for non-medical purposes potentially inflicting irreversible harm to children’s bodies.” Those who fail to report such surgeries could face misdemeanor charges for failing to report the “child abuse.”

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott (above) had requested the department determine if some gender-affirming surgeries for trans children could be recognized as child abuse, reports the Tribune.  

Abbott’s letter to Masters compares gender-affirmation surgery to sterilization and female genital mutilation.

The letters come after a bill defining several types of gender-affirming health care as child abuse passed the Texas Senate before failing to get much attention in the state's House.

The determination has been condemned by Texas LGBTQ+ groups. Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas, said in a statement that Abbott’s “inflammatory language” will only harm trans kids.

“The language used in Gov. Abbott’s letter to Texas DFPS and in the DFPS response is offensive to our community and has nothing to do with the reality of life-saving affirming healthcare practices for transgender people, further illustrating that politicians and government appointees should focus on governing actual emergencies and not fictitious ones,” Martinez said.

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