Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is calling for the state's Department of Family and Protective Services to begin investigating the parents of trans children who allow them to access gender-affirming medical care, as prescribed by their doctors.
“I hereby direct your agency to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation of any reported instances of these abusive procedures in the State of Texas,” Abbott wrote in a letter to DFPS.
In 2021 the Texas legislature tried and failed to pass Senate Bill 1646, which would have codified any gender-affirming care, including hormone replacement therapy and surgical procedure for minors as child abuse under state law, making it illegal for parents to seek medical care for children experiencing gender dysphoria.
While the bill, fortunately, failed in committee, that didn’t stop Gov. Abbott from seeking workarounds to continue targeting these parents.
Earlier this week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton declared (in a nonbinding opinion) that sex-change procedures for minors constitute child abuse according to state law, including both gender reassignment surgery and puberty-blocking hormones.
“There is no doubt that these procedures are ‘abuse’ under Texas law, and thus must be halted,” Paxton said in a statement. “I’ll do everything I can to protect against those who take advantage of and harm young Texans.”
According to the statement, his main reasoning is that gender-confirming medical care may lead to trans people not being able to procreate. “Any discussion of sterilization procedures in the context of minor children must, accordingly, consider the fundamental right that is at stake: the right to procreate. Given the uniquely vulnerable nature of children, and the clear dangers of sterilization demonstrated throughout history,” he wrote.
Citing Paxton’s opinion, Abbott wrote that “it 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 sterilizations, mastectomies, removals of otherwise healthy body parts, and administration of puberty-blocking drugs or supraphysiologic doses of testosterone or estrogen.”
In the letter, he also stated that doctors, nurses, and teachers should be subject to criminal penalties if they don’t report parents whom they believe to be helping their children receive gender-affirming health care to state authorities.
These moves by both Abbott and Paxton have received strong pushback from LGBTQ+ rights and human rights groups.
“This is an absolute nightmare,” American Civil Liberties Union attorney Chase Strangio tweeted. “Supporting your kid is NOT child abuse and families will be protected and defended as best we can and if we need to help you get out of Texas we will do that too. I am sorry this is the horrible world we live in.”
“Efforts by politicians to restrict gender-affirming care are at odds with every major medical and mental health association in the country,” said Sam Ames, the director of advocacy and government affairs at LGBTQ+ mental health organization the Trevor Project, according to the Bloomberg news service. The group added that gender-affirming health care both improves mental health among trans and non-binary youth and lowers suicide rates.
“We urge the Texas Attorney General to put politics aside and focus on increasing access to this lifesaving medical care — not cut it off,” Ames said.
“Governor Abbott’s actions are unconscionable. The Paxton opinion is poorly researched, poorly reasoned — and entirely political. While it is not legally binding, it is discriminatory and dangerous, and will have real-life consequences for trans kids and their families,” said a statement from Human Rights Campaign Texas State Director Rebecca Marques. “Abbott’s order is a shameful attempt to score political points by attacking Texas’s transgender youth — who are, again and again, the Governor’s target — in an attempt to one-up and outdo other radical anti-equality politicians by attacking best practice, age-appropriate, medicallynecessary care that in many cases is lifesaving.”