Texas DA’s refuse to uphold Governor’s order to investigate parents of trans kids for “child abuse”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks to the media before the 2016 Republican National Committee debate.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott Photo: Shutterstock

At least two Texas county attorneys have declared will not uphold Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) recent demand that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) investigate parents who support their transgender children.

“As the lawyer who represents DFPS in civil child abuse cases in Harris County, I can tell you my office won’t be participating in this political game,” wrote Christian D. Menefee on Twitter.

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“We’ll continue to follow the laws on the books—not [Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s (R)] politically motivated and legally wrong ‘opinion.'” 

In a more official statement, Menefee lambasted both Abbott and Paxton for “ignoring medical professionals and intentionally misrepresenting the law to the detriment of transgender children and their families.”

He declared that he will “continue to follow the laws on the books,” rather than their opinions, as “we owe a duty of candor to the courts about what the law really says.”

Travis County Attorney Delia Garza also said her office also refuses to comply with Abbott’s directive.

“Republican leadership of this state is trying to turn loving and supportive parents into criminals, and this office will play no part in it,” Garza told The Dallas Morning News.

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 undergo 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.

And earlier this week, 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.

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.

Citing Paxton’s opinion, Abbott’s recent order to DFPS 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 order 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.

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