Gender-Transition Surgery Is Child Abuse, Says Texas CPS in Response to Governor Abbott

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The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) on Wednesday confirmed that gender-transition surgery on children constitutes child abuse, days after Governor Greg Abbott asked the department to issue a determination.

“Genital mutilation of a child through reassignment surgery is child abuse,” Commissioner Jaime Masters wrote in a letter to Abbott. “This surgical procedure physically alters a child’s genitalia for non-medical purposes potentially inflicting irreversible harm to children’s bodies.”

Masters cited Section 261 of the Texas Family Code that prohibits parents from imposing substantial physical harm onto their children.

The commissioner added that anyone who believes a child has undergone gender-transition surgery must report it to the DFPS and that all allegations involving the procedure on minors will be taken seriously and investigated.

The department notes, however, that the surgical procedure may not constitute child abuse in cases where it is medically necessary, including for 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.

The commissioner’s response comes after Abbott asked the DFPS to investigate whether the procedures constituted child abuse in an August 6 letter.

“Subjecting a child to genital mutilation through reassignment surgery creates a ‘genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child,’” Abbott wrote in a letter to the department. “This broad definition of ‘abuse’ should cover a surgical procedure that will sterilize the child, such as orchiectomy or hysterectomy, or remove otherwise healthy body parts, such as penectomy or mastectomy. Indeed, Texas already outlaws female genital mutilation of a child, and presumably that also constitutes child abuse.”

The directive comes as some Republican lawmakers have taken steps to ban gender-transition procedures for minors. Late last month, a federal judge temporarily blocked an Arkansas law that would forbid doctors from providing gender-transition hormone treatment, puberty blockers, or sex-reassignment surgery to minors.

U.S. District Judge Jay Moody ruled that the ACLU was likely to win its challenge against the law and that allowing the measure to take effect would hurt transgender youths currently undergoing the procedures. However, the state argued that it has a legitimate interest in banning the procedures; Republican attorneys general from 17 states urged the judge to uphold the ban.

Those who back the legislation say they aim to protect children from irreversible procedures they could later regret.

The American College of Pediatricians, which represents 600 physicians and health care professionals, has endorsed the legislation, saying affirming gender dysphoria in young people too early will urge them to transition.

Advocates for the bans also argue that transgender activists minimize the side effects and downplay cases of transgender people who regret their transitions.

In May, Tennessee’s governor signed a similar ban on gender-transition procedures.

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