Texas Gov. Wants Parents Providing Transgender Treatments to Their Minors Reported for Child Abuse

(Photo credit: Callaghan O’Hare for The New York Times)

 By Victor Trammell

If it looks that the parents of transgender minors are obtaining gender-affirming medical treatment, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (pictured) is urging “licensed professionals” and “members of the general public” to report them to state authorities.

Abbott, a Republican, addressed a letter to the Department of Family and Protective Services on February 22 asking it to “perform a swift and complete inquiry” into any reports of juveniles receiving “elective treatments for gender changing.”

Abbott’s letter comes after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an opinion on February 21 declaring that enabling children to undergo transition treatment including puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and surgery constituted child abuse under state law.

Paxton delivered the ruling after the Legislature failed to adopt a measure last year that would have made providing such care to kids a crime in addition to physical and sexual abuse. An opinion is a legal interpretation that does not alter the law but may influence how it is applied.

Abbott instructed licensed professionals who interact with children — such as teachers, nurses, and physicians — as well as “members of the general public” to report such concerns in his letter. He went on to say that “failure to disclose such child abuse” is punishable under state law.

Both Paxton’s opinion and Abbott’s letter are accused of being politically motivated by supporters, who point out that they were posted only days before the Republican primary on March 1 and that both men face a competitive field of re-election candidates.

Paxton is attempting to divert attention away from the difficulties affecting his campaign, according to Adri Pèrez, policy and advocacy strategist for LGBTQ equality at the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. He is awaiting trial on accusations of securities fraud stemming from a 2015 indictment, and the FBI is investigating him for claims of bribery and abuse of office. A request for comment to Paxton’s office was not returned.

The opinion and the letter, according to Brian Klosterboer, a staff attorney at the ACLU of Texas, have no legal impact and “cannot modify Texas law or usurp the constitutional rights of Texas families.”

Without enacting legislation to modify the law, it’s unclear whether Abbott and Paxton will be able to compel the Department of Family and Protective Services and other state agencies to investigate charges of child abuse against transgender parents.

At least one county official has said that Abbott’s instruction would not be followed. Paxton and Abbott “are ignoring medical professionals and intentionally misrepresenting the law to the detriment of transgender children and their families,” according to Christian Menefee, an elected attorney who represents the Department of Family and Protective Services in civil child abuse cases in Harris County, where Houston is located.

Nearly two dozen states explored legislation last year that would deny transgender adolescents access to some or all gender-affirming medical treatment. Some states, including Texas, proposed laws that would have made providing transition care a crime for parents or physicians. Only two states, Arkansas and Tennessee, have passed laws restricting such treatment for minors, and Arkansas’ legislation was halted from taking effect in July by a federal court.

In a statement to The Dallas Morning News on Wednesday, the White House, which has lately ramped up its reaction to anti-LGBTQ state policies, condemned Abbott’s edict.

The Department of Health and Human Services “stands with transgender adolescents and their medical providers,” according to Rachel Levine, assistant secretary for health and the first openly transgender government employee approved by the Senate.

.Supporters of gender-affirming treatment limits say that adolescents are unable to agree to care that involves irreversible modifications to their bodies. Gender-affirming treatment is medically important for transgender adolescents, according to all relevant major medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Psychological Association, according to advocates.

Abbott’s policy “rejects evidence-based transgender medical treatment,” according to the Endocrine Society, an international medical association for the subject of endocrinology, which includes the study of hormones.

After entering puberty, the Endocrine Society’s clinical practice guideline suggests only reversible therapies for teenagers, such as puberty blockers. Hormone therapy may be started in older teens who “show the capacity to grant informed consent to partly irreversible treatment and suffer chronic gender incongruence.”

The recommendation also suggests postponing surgery until the age of legal majority, which in most jurisdictions is 18-years-old.

 

About Carma Henry 20211 Articles
Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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