Allowing certain types of gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth is a form of child abuse, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says in his interpretation of state law, drawing opposition from top medical and child welfare groups.
"There is no doubt that these procedures are 'abuse' under Texas law, and thus must be halted," Paxton, a Republican, said in a news release, reports The Dallas Morning News. "The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has a responsibility to act accordingly. I'll do everything I can to protect those who take advantage of and harm young Texans."
His opinion covers treatments such as hormone therapy and puberty blockers and opposes medical standards from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), which has authored care standards that require both medical and physical health treatments.
Paxton's opinion doesn't yet have the force of state law in Texas to back it up, and spokespeople for the state departments of Family and Protective Services and Health and Human Services said the agencies would review his statement, which was issued after state Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, asked him for an opinion on the matter.
The attorney general argued his opinion by comparing healthcare for transgender youth to the opioid crisis and said states have an interest in regulating healthcare guidelines and the medical profession to protect the public.
"There is always the potential for novel medical determinations to promote purported remedies that may not improve patient outcomes and can even result in tragic harms," Paxton said. "The State's power is arguably at its zenith when it comes to protecting children."
He also said that parents' right to consent to "certain medically necessary procedures" doesn't extend to "elective (not medically necessary) procedures and treatments that infringe upon a minor child's constitutional right to procreate" while discussing surgical interventions.
Most medical experts already agree that many medical interventions are not recommended for the youngest patients who have gender dysphoria, which occurs when their gender identity does not match the sex with which they were assigned at birth.
Mental health care is generally the form of treatment for patients with gender dysphoria before they reach puberty, with medical interventions such as hormones not recommended before puberty.
Surgery, meanwhile, is not recommended until a patient has reached legal adulthood and has lived continually for at least a year in the gender role that is consistent with that person's gender identity, according to WPATH.
Paxton's opinion, meanwhile, comes after state Republicans have focused on transgender children, including last year, when lawmakers tried but failed in a push to change state law to ban gender-affirming healthcare measures for them.
Further, in August, the state's child protective services agency, under pressure from GOP Gov. Greg Abbott, changed its abuse definition to include "reassignment surgery" for transgender minors and said it would investigate allegations.
Other states have taken steps to block transgender youth from access to some medical services, including in Tennessee, which last year banned hormone treatments for minors who have not reached puberty.
In Arkansas, lawmakers passed legislation banning doctors from referring minors or providing medical treatment for gender dysphoria, but a federal judge put a hold on the law while it is being challenged.
Paxton, along with other attorneys general, has filed an amicus brief that supports the Arkansas law, with the coalition calling healthcare measures for transgender children "experimentation."
The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Psychiatric Association support allowing age-appropriate care for children with gender dysphoria, and the Texas Pediatric Society urged the state's child protective services agency, before its August ruling, to base decisions on science.
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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