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Governor Abbott Directs DFPS To Investigate Gender-Affirming Medical Care As 'Child Abuse'

AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) - Governor Greg Abbott sent a letter on Tuesday, February 22 to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) directing the agency to investigate any reported instances of minors undergoing sex reassignment procedures or taking hormones as "child abuse."

This interpretation of the law would also give medical professionals and the general public a "duty to report" any such instances under the penalty of Texas law. The order does not change existing laws, but could potentially change how the DFPS enforces them.

Abbott's letter comes after the Office of the Attorney General said that a number of sex reassignment procedures and hormone treatments for minors constitute child abuse under Texas law. According to Abbott, the offending treatments include reassignment surgeries, mastectomies, "removals of otherwise healthy body parts," and administration of puberty-blocking drugs or doses of testosterone or estrogen meant to alter one's body.

While puberty-blocking drugs and hormones are therapies sometimes available to teens and children, surgery is very rarely ever an option for minors and cases are extremely few and far between.

While Abbott said his order is meant to "protect children from abuse," critics argue the move is unnecessary and criminalizes a vulnerable group of Texans.

A group of five Texas DAs issued a statement on Feb. 24, which said:

We are deeply disturbed by Governor Abbott and Attorney General Paxton's cruel directives treating transgender children's access to life-saving, gender-affirming care as "child abuse." This is part of a continued onslaught on personal freedoms. Elected officials should be protecting our most vulnerable. These two, instead, want to irrationally target and restrain children seeking medical assistance – and force caregivers to participate. This is un-American. We cannot stand silent in the face of such an egregious invasion of privacy.

The DAs, including John Cruezot of Dallas County and others representing Travis, Bexar, Nueces, and Fort Bend Counties, also said they "will enforce the Constitution and will not irrationally and unjustifiably interfere with medical decisions made between children, their parents, and their medical physicians."

So far, no cases have been filed against anyone related to the use of sex reassignment treatments for minors and it is unclear whether such charges would hold up in court. No court in the country has ever found that sex reassignment treatments constitute child abuse.

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