The state of Texas this week declared that performing transgender sex reassignment surgeries on minors constitutes child abuse.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott made the announcement on Thursday after receiving a conclusive response on the matter from Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Commissioner Jaime Masters.
Abbott had reportedly directed the DFPS last week to issue a determination on whether "genital mutilation of a child for purposes of gender transitioning through reassignment surgery constitutes child abuse." In a response letter, Masters determined that it is.
"Genital mutilation of a child through reassignment surgery is child abuse," Masters wrote in her letter to the governor. "This surgical procedure physically alters a child's genitalia for non-medical purposes potentially inflicting irreversible harm to children's bodies."
In a press release, Abbott announced that Masters' determination as well as subsequent enforcement of her conclusions are "effective immediately."
In her letter, Masters spelled out the legal responsibilities that professionals who witness suspected abuse have under Texas law.
Pursuant to Texas Family Code, Section 261.101, a professional who has "cause to believe" a child has been or may be abused must report that belief to DFPS within 48-hours after the professional first suspects the abuse. A professional may not delegate to or rely on another person to make the report. Professionals include teachers, nurses, doctors, day-care employees and others who are either licensed by the state or work in a facility licensed or operated by the state and who have direct contact with children through their job.
Failure to make a timely report about suspected abuse is considered a Class A misdemeanor and could result in jail time.
The commissioner added that "allegations involving genital mutilation of a child through reassignment surgery will be promptly and thoroughly investigated and any appropriate actions will be taken."
There are, of course, certain situations in which surgery on a child's genitalia may be necessary, Masters noted in the letter.
"It may be warranted for the following conditions including, but not limited to, a child whose body parts have been affected by illness or trauma; who is born with a medically verifiable genetic disorder of sex development, such as the presence of both ovarian and testicular tissue; or who does not have the normal sex chromosome structure for male or female as determined through genetic testing," she wrote.
Whether children should be able to undergo sex reassignment surgery or other kinds of gender transition procedures has become a hot-button political issue of late, as views continue to be put forward on gender identity.
While on the campaign trail last year, President Joe Biden signaled support for children as young as 8 years old being able to change their genders.
Then, in a nod to the progressive movement, he nominated Dr. Rachel Levine, who identifies as a transgender woman, to be the United States assistant secretary for health.
During Levine's confirmation hearing, the health official refused to rule out allowing a child to override parental consent in pursuit of hormone therapy or sex-change surgery.