TEXAS — Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is up for reelection and could be looking at a runoff election following the March 1 GOP primary, on Monday released an opinion in which he said some gender-affirming procedures for minors are child abuse under state law.
Specifically, according to a news release announcing the opinion, Paxton said he is referring to sex-change procedures and the prescription of puberty blockers.
Paxton said such procedures violate section 261.000 of the Texas Family Code.
“There is no doubt that these procedures are ‘abuse’ under Texas law, and thus must be halted,” Paxton wrote. “The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) has a responsibility to act accordingly. I’ll do everything I can to protect against those who take advantage of and harm young Texans.”
Paxton’s opinion came after state Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, asked for clarity on the issue. It’s not clear what it could mean for gender-affirming care in Texas.
Last year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott directed the Texas Department for Family and Protective Services to determine if gender-affirming care, which involves the alteration of genitals to match gender identity, constitutes child abuse. The agency agreed that it does.
Parents of transgender children Spectrum News 1 have spoken with say such decisions should be left to families and their doctors.
“Really, the way to protect them is to allow them to do what needs to be done in order to save their mental health and often time in their lives,” said Dr. Thomas McNeese, a psychologist whose daughter underwent a gender-affirming procedure.
“She was holding the secret and becoming increasingly depressed. This was a child that was never depressed, was outgoing, never had literally any mental health issues and was just a very happy-go-lucky kid until puberty hit,” McNeese continued. “(Now) she’s the same person she always was. She’s just in her true skin.”
Texas state Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, who authored a bill that would have prohibited transgender children from transitioning before the age of 18, said he and others do not want children to make life-changing decisions and then change their minds later.
Perry said while he believes parents are well-intended, he said he believes the “cost is too great to be wrong.” Perry also noted how authorizations for medical procedures sometimes change over time.
“If you wait till you’re 18, you still have options. If you do this pre-18, and you want a different option, you’ve taken them off the table,” Perry said.