Texas governor Greg Abbott on Friday directed the state Department of Family Protective Services to issue a determination on whether gender-transition surgery on children constitutes child abuse.
“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.”
Abbott’s directive comes after federal judges temporarily blocked an Arkansas law banning gender-transition procedures for minors late last month.
The law, which was the first of its kind, forbids doctors from providing gender-transition hormone treatment, puberty blockers, or sex-reassignment surgery to minors. It was set to take effect on July 28.
However, 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.
The state argued that it has a legitimate interest in banning the procedures for minors; 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.
After Abbott sent the letter to DFPS on Friday, Republican gubernatorial candidate Don Huffines condemned the governor’s directive as not going far enough to protect the children of Texas.
Huffines said in a statement: “The letter Greg Abbott sent to DFPS today is one that he could have sent six years ago. He didn’t. He also could have tasked the Texas Legislature with passing it. He hasn’t. He also leaves open the ability for abusers to continue chemical castration and brainwashing—something his own political appointees are participating in. He won’t stop them. This isn’t leadership, it’s craven political posturing.
“Greg Abbott must immediately task the Texas Legislature with outlawing not only genital mutilation, but also the brainwashing and chemical castration of Texas children,” he added. “Texans deserve a governor who will fight against the radical Leftist sickos and end their war on children.”