The Biden administration has threatened to take “immediate action” against Texas after the state’s Attorney General Ken Paxton designated puberty blockers and the castration of children child abuse under state law and Gov. Greg Abbott decided to investigate parents who allow their gender-confused children to undergo such procedures.
“This is government overreach at its worst,” President Biden said in a statement last week. “Like so many anti-transgender attacks proliferating in states across the country, the Governor’s actions callously threaten to harm children and their families just to score political points. These actions are terrifying many families in Texas and beyond. And they must stop.”
Biden said the Department of Health and Human Services has put the state of Texas “on notice that their discriminatory actions put children’s lives at risk.”
The same day, the HHS issued new guidance saying such restrictions likely violate federal civil rights laws.
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra released a statement, announcing he has directed his team “to evaluate the tools at our disposal to protect trans and gender diverse youth in Texas, and today I am announcing several steps we can take to protect them.”
“HHS will take immediate action if needed," Becerra continued. “Any individual or family in Texas who is being targeted by a child welfare investigation because of this discriminatory gubernatorial order is encouraged to contact our Office for Civil Rights to report their experience.”
In a formal opinion last month, Paxton said that certain sex-change procedures and treatments “can legally constitute child abuse under several provisions of chapter 261 of the Texas Family Code.”
Such procedures include castration, the removal of healthy body parts, as well as the prescription of experimental puberty-blocking drugs, among others.
“Beyond the obvious harm of permanently sterilizing a child, these procedures and treatments can cause side effects and harms beyond permanent infertility,” he stated.
“The medical evidence does not demonstrate that children and adolescents benefit from engaging in these irreversible sterilization procedures.”
Paxton added that allowing such invasive procedures in an attempt to make a child appear more like the opposite sex, like removing private parts, “would deprive the child of the fundamental right to procreate, which supports a finding of child abuse under the Family Code.”
“Because children are legally incompetent to consent to sterilization, procedures and treatments that result in a child’s sterilization are unauthorized and infringe on the child’s fundamental right to procreate,” Paxton continued.
“The lack of authority of a minor to consent to an irreversible sterilization procedure is consistent with other law. The federal Medicaid program does not allow for parental consent, has established a minimum age of 21 for consent to sterilization procedures, and imposes detailed requirements for obtaining that consent.”
Last August, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Commissioner Jamie Masters published a letter asserting that “genital mutilation of a child through reassignment surgery is child abuse, subject to all rules and procedures pertaining to child abuse.”
Masters’ letter came after Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott requested that the agency “issue a determination of whether genital mutilation of a child for purposes of gender transitioning through reassignment surgery constitutes child abuse.”