Is Texas about to ban surgical transition for minors?

On August 6 of this year, Texan Governor Greg Abbott directed the Commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to determine “whether genital mutilation of a child for the purposes of gender transitioning through reassignment surgery constitutes child abuse pursuant to state law.”

And on August 11, he got his answer. Commissioner Jaime Masters responded:

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.” […] As you have described, 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. 

For fans of Abigail Shrier, the word “irreversible” jumps out of the page. Masters continues:

When medically necessary, this surgical procedure may 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. 

This guidance, unless overruled, will have far-reaching consequences for professionals — including “teachers, nurses, doctors, day-care employees and others who are either licensed by the state or work in a facility licensed or operated by the state and who have direct contact with children through their job.”

If surgical transition is defined as child abuse in Texan law, any of these professionals who suspects that a minor has received such an intervention, notwithstanding the exemptions above, will be legally bound to report their suspicion within 48 hours.

They say everything’s bigger in Texas. Will child protection be the issue that proves it?

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