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Texas declares gender-affirming care ‘child abuse,’ investigation underway

Feb 23, 2022

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In a letter, Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) directed the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate gender-affirming care for transgender children in the state, calling it child abuse. The letter, written Tuesday, was informed by a declaration made by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton a day earlier. According to the declaration, “performing certain ‘sex-change’ procedures on children, and prescribing puberty-blockers to them, is ‘child abuse’ under Texas law.”

“There is no doubt that these procedures are ‘abuse’ under Texas law, and thus must be halted,” Paxton said in the declaration. “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.”

Gov. Abbott’s letter Tuesday called for a “prompt and thorough investigation of any reported instances” of any gender affirming care in Texas. In a tweet, he added that DFPS would “refer for prosecutions any such abuse.”

“Texas law… imposes a duty on DFPS to investigate the parents of a child who is subjected to these abusive gender-transitioning procedures, and on other state agencies to investigate licensed facilities where such procedures may occur,” Abbott said in the letter. “Texas law imposes reporting requirements upon all licensed professionals who have direct contact with children who may be subject to such abuse, including doctors, nurses, and teachers, and provides criminal penalties for failure to report such child abuse.”

The declaration of gender-affirming care as child abuse is the latest effort Texas’ state officials have made to weigh in on social issues. The state’s controversial abortion law garnered national attention last year, banning abortions once cardiac activity is detected and without an exception for cases of rape or incest. Earlier this month, it was revealed that abortions in the state fell 60% in the first month after the new law took effect.

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