87th LegislatureState Agency Deflects Request on Whether Puberty Blockers, Gender Transition Counseling Constitute Child Abuse

State Rep. Bryan Slaton asked the DFPS last month if mastectomies, puberty blockers, and counseling to encourage transition may also be abuse.
September 3, 2021
Last month, state Rep. Bryan Slaton (R-Royse City) asked the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) if puberty blockers, mastectomies, and gender transition counseling constituted child abuse.

In a response sent today, the DFPS said it will wait for the attorney general to weigh in on the issue.

“I have reviewed your letter carefully,” DFPS Commissioner Jaime Masters wrote. “As you may know, [state Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth)] recently sent a letter to The Honorable Ken Paxton seeking an official opinion on the issues discussed in your letter. I will await the opinion issued by the Attorney General’s office before I reach any final decisions on the matters you raise.”

Previously, the DFPS announced that it would treat genital transition surgeries as child abuse in response to a letter from Governor Greg Abbott that posed the question. Abbott’s letter to the DFPS fulfilled his promise to “address the issue” of child gender modification through executive power after efforts to ban it died in the legislature without his support.

Though they would have been enforced in different ways, those proposed bans would have outlawed any medical procedure meant to aid a child’s gender transition, including mastectomies and chemical treatments like puberty blockers.

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After the agency responded to Abbott’s letter, Slaton — who fought to restrict the use of gender transition hormones for children during the legislative session — sent the DFPS his request. Shortly thereafter, Krause sent a similar inquiry to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

The proposed bans in the legislature would not have included counseling that encourages children to transition, which has become a relatively new concern amid Abbott’s upcoming primary election. Don Huffines, a former state lawmaker and one of Abbott’s Republican challengers, brought the counseling issue to the forefront in relation to the custody case of James Younger, a young Texas boy whose mother has fought in court for years to raise him as a girl. A court recently awarded her exclusive custody rights over many of James’ decisions after his father refused to comply with court-ordered counseling.

Compounding the issue, the DFPS recently took down a page on its website that said it was “dedicated to helping empower and celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, alley, and non-heterosexual (LGBTQIA+) youth, their peers, and family.” The website changed shortly after Huffines drew attention to it in a campaign press release.

State law punishes failure to report child abuse as a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of $4,000. Intentionally hiding child abuse is a state jail felony.


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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.