87th LegislatureAbbott Directs DFPS to Investigate Use of Puberty Blockers as Child Abuse After Attorney General Opinion

Abbott had previously promised to issue the DFPS directive once Attorney General Ken Paxton finished an opinion on the topic.
February 22, 2022
Governor Greg Abbott directed the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) today to begin investigating the use of puberty blockers and other gender transition procedures as child abuse.

“Because the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is responsible for protecting children from abuse, I hereby direct your agency to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation of any reported instances of these abusive procedures in the State of Texas,” Abbott’s letter reads.

“To protect Texas children from abuse, DFPS and all other state agencies must follow the law as explained in OAG Opinion No. KP-04.”

DFPS manages the state’s foster care system and is responsible for child protection. Under Abbott’s directive, the agency now has the duty to investigate the families of children who undergo these gender transition procedures.

Additionally, other state agencies now have the duty to “investigate licensed facilities where such procedures may occur,” according to Abbott’s letter.

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The opinion Abbott references came out of the attorney general’s office just yesterday. In response to an official request by state Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth), one of the lawmakers who filed a bill in the regular legislative session to ban child gender modification, Attorney General Ken Paxton opined that current Texas law already defines endocrine and surgical treatments meant to aid a sex transition as abuse.

Under state law, any licensed professional that has direct contact with children — such as doctors or teachers — faces criminal penalties for failing to report child abuse.

The announcement follows a similar letter Abbott wrote to DFPS Commissioner Jaime Masters in August, asking the agency to treat genital transition surgeries as abuse under current law when performed on children. Masters agreed, responding to Abbott in a letter just days later.

Although there were citizens who testified during the regular session that they had undergone genital transition surgery before the age of 18, puberty-suppressing drugs and cosmetic surgeries like mastectomies are much more common for children. Since Abbott’s August letter did not include these procedures, Krause’s request to Paxton asked if the law might already deem them abuse.

Several Republicans filed legislation to ban these procedures during the regular session, but none received a floor vote in the Texas House. While some would classify these procedures as child abuse, thus authorizing DFPS to intervene in families, Krause’s bill would have threatened doctors with penalties such as license suspension for performing these surgeries or administering puberty blockers.

During special sessions, the legislature can only consider topics that the governor allows. Abbott did not add the topic of child gender modification to the agendas of the three special sessions that followed the regular session.

While Abbott’s letter is addressed directly to Masters, he also carbon copies the letter to directors of various state agencies, including the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Medical Board, and the Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council.

Alongside drugs “that induce transient or permanent infertility,” the specific procedures that Paxton deemed abusive include surgeries to alter a child’s genitals or reproductive system, surgeries to remove breasts, or any surgery that removes healthy or non-diseased tissue from the body.


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Isaiah Mitchell

Isaiah Mitchell is a reporter for The Texan, a Texas native, and a huge Allman Brothers fan. He graduated cum laude from Trinity University in 2020 with a degree in English. Isaiah loves playing music and football with his family.