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Texas leaders direct state agencies to investigate gender-affirming care for transgender youth as ‘child abuse’

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 Protesters participate in a rally against anti-trans legislation at the southern steps of the state Capitol on April 28, 2021.
Evan L'Roy
The Texas Tribune
Protesters participate in a rally against anti-trans legislation at the southern steps of the state Capitol on April 28, 2021.

Texas GOP leaders continue to target and create barriers for transgender youth, most recently by threatening criminal penalties for parents, teachers and doctors who allow or fail to report gender-affirming care for kids as “child abuse.”

Last week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton released a new legal interpretation asserting that under state law, certain types of medical care for trans youth such as hormone therapy treatments and puberty blockers can constitute child abuse.

The legal opinion was then reinforced by a directive from Gov. Greg Abbott that state agencies – including the Department of Family and Protective Services, the Health and Human Services Commission, the Texas Medical Board and the Texas Education Agency – should investigate certain medical treatments for transgender children as abuse.

Abbott said Texas law imposes reporting requirements on all licensed professionals who have direct contact with children and that state agencies are required to conduct “a prompt and thorough investigation of any reported instances of these abusive procedures in the State of Texas.”

Last legislative session, state lawmakers failed to pass a bill which also classified gender-affirming health care as child abuse.

The nation’s and state’s top medical groups remain opposed to the classification of gender-affirming care as abuse, and continue to urge leaders and lawmakers not to target children’s access to such treatments.

They say evidence-backed options are safe and critical to the mental health of transgender and gender-diverse kids, and that state leaders’ actions last week “directly threaten the health and well-being of transgender youth.”

Transgender advocates say Abbott and Paxton are using transgender kids as pawns for political gain as they both run for reelection.

Nearly 14,000 Texans between the ages 13 and 17 self-identified as transgender in 2017.

What do these developments mean for the future of transgender children in Texas, and their doctors, teachers and parents?


  • Marin Wolf, health care reporter for the Dallas Morning News
  • Andrea Segovia, senior field and policy strategist for the Transgender Education Network of Texas
  • Joe Gonzales, Bexar County District Attorney
  • Bhavik Kumar, MD, family physician and Texas State Lead for the Committee to Protect Health Care

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 833-877-8255, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet @TPRSource.

*This interview was recorded on Tuesday, March 1.

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