Sex change surgeries for minors constitutes sex abuse, Texas Dept. of Family Protective Services says

Performing a transgender surgery on a minor constitutes child sex abuse, according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Commissioner Jaime Masters.

“Genital mutilation of a child through reassignment surgery is child abuse, subject to all rules and procedures pertaining to child abuse,” Masters said Wednesday. “Such mutilation may cause a ‘genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child.’”

The announcement came after Governor Greg Abbott (R) called on DFPS to determine whether transgender surgeries for children constitute sex abuse. In an August 6 letter to DFPS, Abbott said, “Subjecting a child to genital mutilation through reassignment surgery creates a ‘genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child.'”

“This broad definition of ‘abuse’ should cover a surgical procedure that will sterilize the child, such as orchiectomy or hysterectomy, or remove otherwise healthy body parts, such as penectomy or mastectomy. Indeed, Texas already outlaws female genital mutilation of a child, and presumably, that also constitutes child abuse,” Abbott’s letter added.

Masters’ response to Abbott’s letter included medical exceptions for when these types of surgeries may be medically necessary.

Examples include if a child has had body parts affected by illness or trauma, if a child is born with a medically verifiable genetic disorder of sex development, or if the child “does not have the normal sex chromosome structure for male or female as determined through genetic testing.”

A doctor, teacher, nurse, day-care employee, or any individual who has “cause to believe” that a child has been abused by sex-change surgeries must report their suspicions within 48 hours to DFPS, Masters said. “Failure to report is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000, or both.”

The new decision comes as Republicans across the country have taken steps to ban transgender surgeries for minors. Last month, a federal judge temporarily blocked an Arkansas law that forbids doctors from providing gender-transition surgeries, hormone treatments, puberty blockers, or sex reassignment surgeries for minors.

U.S. District Judge Jay Moody found that the ACLU was likely to win a challenge against the law, arguing it could be detrimental to transgender youth. Republican attorneys general from 17 states argued the judge to uphold the law.