On August 6, Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered his state Department of Family Protective Services (DFPS) to investigate and report on whether gender-transition procedures performed on minors constitute child abuse according to Texas law.
The Texas DFPS, created in 2004 to replace previous administrative offices, is charged with investigating whether children, elderly persons, or disabled adults are victims of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
Gov. Abbott told the DFPS of his belief that genital mutilation of a child through reassignment surgery meets the legal definition of a genuine “threat of substantial harm” to a child as a result of physical injury.
The Governor stated that the definition of “abuse” under state law should include medical procedures that lead to sterilization or removal of otherwise healthy organs. He pointed out that state law already expressly prohibits female genital mutilation.
Abbott’s request for a legal finding follows the entry of a restraining order against the State of Arkansas by a federal court in July that blocks enforcement of a recent Arkansas law prohibiting the performance of gender transitioning medical procedures on minors.
The new Arkansas law was to take effect on July 28 but is now on hold, pending the outcome of the federal lawsuit. The law prohibits puberty-blocking medication, hormone treatments, or surgeries intended to reassign gender attributes of children.
The ACLU brought the Arkansas case and led to a temporary ruling by U.S. District Judge Jay Moody blocking enforcement of the new law until the trial in the matter. Moody was appointed to the federal bench in 2013 by President Obama.
The Republican attorneys general from 17 states filed papers in the case supporting the Arkansas law as a safeguard for children against irreversible medical procedures that may be regretted later in life.
The law is supported by the American College of Pediatricians, which states that affirming gender dysphoria in children causes an urge to seek further transitioning procedures when they otherwise would not.
Tennessee enacted a law similar to the challenged Arkansas law in May. The Tennessee law prohibits doctors from prescribing hormone treatment for prepubescent children.
At least one of Abbott’s Republican rivals believes that the Governor is not protecting children. Don Huffines was planning a run against Abbott and said he could have sent such a letter six years ago but didn’t. Huffines said Abbott should immediately demand that the state legislature pass laws prohibiting Texas children’s “brainwashing and chemical castration.”