Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared Wednesday that putting children through transgender surgery is abuse.
Abbott’s declaration came on the heels of a Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) finding that performing or forcing transgender surgery on children is a form of child abuse. Abbott asked the DFPS to look into the topic last week.
“Genital mutilation of a child through reassignment surgery is child abuse, subject to all rules and procedures pertaining to child abuse. Such mutilation may cause a ‘genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child’ [according to Texas law],” a Wednesday letter from DFPS Commissioner Jaime Masters says. “This surgical procedure physically alters a child’s genitalia for non-medical purposes potentially inflicting irreversible harm to children’s bodies. Generally, children in the care and custody of a parent lack the legal capacity to consent to surgical treatments, making them more vulnerable.”
Masters laid out narrow cases in which surgery on a child’s genitalia may be medically necessary and not constitute abuse.
“It may be warranted for the following conditions including, but not limited to, 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 letter says.
Masters also notes that, under Texas law, professionals such as teachers, doctors, and daycare workers are required to report suspected cases of child abuse to the state “within 48-hours after the professional first suspects the abuse.”
“Failure to report is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000, or both,” Masters writes. “If it is shown that the professional intentionally concealed the abuse, then the offense is a state jail felony.”
Abbott announced Masters’ findings Wednesday, saying in a statement that “the determination and subsequent enforcement of Commissioner Masters’ conclusions are effective immediately.”
"Genital mutilation of a child through reassignment surgery is child abuse…" – Commissioner Jaime Masters, @TexasDFPS
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) August 11, 2021
On Friday, Abbott requested the DFPS look into whether transgender surgery amounted to child abuse after a push to ban transgender surgery on children failed in the state legislature.
“Subjecting a child to genital mutilation through reassignment surgery creates a ‘genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child,’” Abbott said in the letter. “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 push to ban transgender surgery on children comes as similar efforts are underway across the U.S. In South Carolina, Democratic state Rep. Cezar McKnight introduced a bill in March to ban children from receiving transgender surgery or medication for transitioning. The proposed law carries a sentence of up to 20 years for anyone found in violation.