After the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) announced that it will treat sex-change surgeries for minors as child abuse, state Rep. Bryan Slaton (R-Royse City) asked the agency to include chemical procedures, mastectomies, and transition counseling as well.
“While reassignment surgery through altering genitalia is a key part in early transitioning of children, it is not the only method utilized,” Slaton wrote in a letter to DFPS.
He goes on to ask if breast removal surgery, counseling to affirm or encourage a non-biological gender, and chemical procedures like puberty blockers also count as abuse.
“If these methods do constitute child abuse, will they be held to a standard equal to those life altering and abusive surgeries? I think most Texans would be concerned if DFPS decided that only ‘some’ genital mutilation was wrong while condoning other mutilation.”
DFPS announced that it will begin investigating child sex transition surgeries as acts of abuse shortly after Governor Greg Abbott asked the agency to weigh in on the issue. Abbott’s letter and the DFPS response both mention genital surgeries only.
While Slaton filed no bills himself to address these procedures, he repeatedly offered bill amendments to limit them. For example, he proposed an amendment to exclude puberty blockers from a bill that would establish a prescription drug savings program. None of his amendments passed.
While Slaton’s gadfly attitude and individualistic votes made him something of an outcast in his own party during the regular session, he is not alone. Republican lawmakers filed several bills in the regular session to ban child gender modification, all of which died before a vote in the House despite the support of nearly 50 coauthors for certain bills. In the first special session that followed, support for a proposed ban grew to 75 coauthors.
Abbott, meanwhile, has handled the issue with a light touch. Withholding support from legislative efforts without criticizing them, he quietly left the topic off his priority lists and special session calls. Potentially with one eye on his upcoming election, Abbott has given the issue unprecedented attention from his office of late since he first publicly supported a child gender transition ban last month during a radio interview.
The bills that died during the regular session would have banned surgeries and drugs meant to aid a child’s gender transition. Even for Slaton and the party, counseling is a new addition.
Don Huffines, one of Abbott’s primary election challengers, has blasted him repeatedly for withholding support from a legislative child gender modification ban. In addition, Huffines recently criticized him for appointing the counselor of James Younger to several state boards.
James Younger is the young Texas boy at the center of perhaps the state’s highest-profile custody case. His mother wants to raise him as a girl, while his father insists that James presents himself as a boy around him. James’ story inspired the earliest legislation to ban gender modification procedures for children in Texas.
While James’ mother has said she is not pursuing a physical transition for him, James still attends court-ordered counseling that his father calls one-sided since it aligns with the mother’s possession schedule. As a result, the father claims, James only attends counseling with his mother and thus while presenting himself as a girl.
Because of late child support payments and refusal to comply with court orders including the counseling, a court recently awarded exclusive custody rights to James’ mother for almost all decisions. The one exception is physical gender reassignment, which still requires the father’s consent. Counseling, however, is solely up to James’ mother.
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