Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is demanding the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) investigate parents who support their transgender children and allow them access to gender affirming medical care prescribed by their doctors in a letter sent to the agency yesterday.
“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 to DFPS.
Last year, the Texas legislature tried and failed to pass S.B. 1646, a bill that would have declared parents who allow their trans children to take puberty blockers or hormone therapy to be child abusers.
That bill failed in committee, so Gov. Abbott decided to work around the legislature and asked DFPS Commissioner Jaime Masters last year to declare that gender affirming surgery is child abuse when performed on children, even though it is not performed on children.
Earlier this week, the attorney general of Texas, Republican Ken Paxton, issued a non-binding opinion stating that gender affirming health care for transgender youth is a form of child abuse, a move that could increase harassment of the families of trans children. And his main reasoning for calling gender affirming care child abuse is that trans people might not be able to make babies with certain kinds of gender affirming care.
The 13-page document came in response to a letter from Texas Rep. Matt Krause (R), the same lawmaker who is trying to eliminate LGBTQ books from schools, including And Tango Makes Three, a book about a penguin with two dads.
“Each of the ‘sex change’ procedures and treatments enumerated above, when performed on children, can legally constitute child abuse,” Paxton wrote in the opinion, referring to puberty blockers and hormone therapy as well as surgery.
“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,” he wrote, adding that parents, counselors, and doctors are conspiring to take away trans kids’ “constitutional right to procreate” and comparing gender affirming care to opioids and the forced sterilization of Black women.
Citing Paxton’s opinion, Abbott’s order says that it’s “clear” 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.”
Abbott’s letter also says that “doctors, nurses, and teachers” should face “criminal penalties” if they don’t report parents to state authorities if they believe that parents are helping their children access gender affirming health care.
In a tweet, Paxton called gender affirming care and puberty blockers – which have been shown to reduce lifetime suicide risk for transgender people who have access to them before puberty – “monstrous and tragic.”
Sex-change operations and puberty blockers prescribed to kids is “child abuse” under Texas law.
These procedures are monstrous and tragic. “I’ll do everything I can to protect against those who take advantage of and harm young Texans. https://t.co/AOoO5NNmyC
— Attorney General Ken Paxton (@KenPaxtonTX) February 21, 2022
“This is an absolute nightmare,” tweeted ACLU attorney Chase Strangio. “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.”
This is an absolute nightmare. But 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. pic.twitter.com/OBPffc38Y1
— Chase Strangio (@chasestrangio) February 22, 2022
Amber Briggle, the mother of a transgender child, testified against S.B. 1646 last year. She told the Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs that she was “terrified” that by testifying against the bill, her words would be used to put her in jail should that bill pass.
On Twitter, she called out Paxton for effectively trying to make S.B. 1646 a law through his opinion.
“Therefore, caring for trans kids is NOT illegal, and Ken Paxton can fuck off,” Briggle wrote.
She pointed out that she asked Paxton to stop anti-trans laws and said that he responded, “I don’t make the laws.”
“How fucking DARE Ken Paxton come to my home to break bread with my family at our dinner table, and then say that families like mine should not exist. He’s met my son and knows that my husband and I are NOT the definition of child abusers,” she concluded. “Shame on him.”
Also, and this is important: I KNOW HE KNOWS THIS. I *literally* asked him when he was a dinner guest in my home if he could stop anti-trans bills. His answer = "I don't make the laws."
He KNOWS he can't do this. This is him exploiting CHILDREN to win a primary. That's it.
— Amber Briggle (she/her) (@mrsbriggle) February 22, 2022