The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) has declared that sex-change surgery on children constitutes child abuse, according to Fox News.  

The ruling, signed by DFPS Director Jaime Masters, was in response to Gov. Greg Abbott’s Aug. 6 request that the agency responsible for protecting children, the elderly, and people with disabilities from abuse, neglect, or exploitation make a clarification on the issue as interpreted by current Texas law. 

“Subjecting a child to genital mutilation through reassignment surgery creates a “genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child,'” Abbott wrote to Master.  

“This broad definition of “abuse” should cover a surgical procedure that will sterilize the child, such as orchiectomy or hysterectomy, or remove otherwise healthy body parts, such as penectomy or mastectomy. Indeed, Texas already outlaws female genital mutilation of a child, and presumably that also constitutes child abuse”, he also mentioned in his letter. 

Surgeries that seek to alter a minor’s sexual identity and provide them with a transgender identity will be considered a form of child abuse, as of this ruling. 

“Genital mutilation of a child through reassignment surgery is child abuse, subject to all rules and procedures pertaining to child abuse,” Masters responded in his letter to Governor Abbott.  

He reaffirmed Abbott’s statement in his letter that such mutilation can cause the child a “genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury,” emphasizing that such a surgical procedure physically alters a child’s genitalia for non-medical purposes and can inflict irreversible damage to the child’s body.  

He further stressed that “Generally, children in the care and custody of a parent lack the legal capacity to consent to surgical treatments, making them more vulnerable.” 

However, Masters clarified, there are some situations in which genital surgery may be necessary and therefore not constitute abuse. Among the excepted cases, he listed:

“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.” 

Finally, in his ruling, he mentioned what the Texas Family Code states about how a professional should proceed in the face of suspected child abuse. 

“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,” adding that professionals licensed by the state, whether they are physicians, teachers, daycare managers, among others, cannot ignore this reporting obligation. 

As reported by Fox News, failure to report suspected or actual child abuse constitutes a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000, or both.

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