In response to the notice, Governor Greg Abbott directed DFPS Commissioner Jaime Masters “to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation of all reported instances of these abusive procedures in the State of Texas.”
It is not known what the legal value of the order and the opinion will be. Brian Klosterboer, a staff attorney for the ACLU of Texas, told CNN that Paxton’s opinion and Abbott’s directive had no legal effect under Texas law.
“They don’t have the power to strip or trample on the rights of transgender youth,” he said.
Paxton’s opinion states that anyone – including parents, doctors or teachers – who has “reasonable grounds” to believe such “abuse” is taking place must report it to authorities within 48 hours. Failure to do so “is a criminal offense,” the opinion states, citing Texas’ “family code.”
Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO and president of LGBTQ nonprofit GLAAD, released a statement saying “deliberately attacking children and making their lives more difficult is shocking and un-American.”
“Every major medical association in the country supports health care for transgender youth, but Republican Governor Abbott is ignoring experts on children’s issues to cruelly and viciously target transgender youth,” Ellis said. “Companies operating in Texas and hosting high profile events like SXSW should contact Governor Abbott and let him know how this will make it more difficult to conduct business in the state and that the only result of his action will be unnecessary harm. to trans people and parents of young trans people.”
In a statement to CNN, DFPS said the agency “will follow Texas law,” as explained in Paxton’s opinion.
“At this time, there are no ongoing child abuse investigations involving the procedures described in this notice. If any such allegations are reported to us, they will be investigated under the existing child protection investigation policies,” the agency’s statement read.
Klosterboer said a major concern he has with the opinion is that people will use it to flag families who allow their children to receive gender-affirming health care.
“The worst effects we could see is that it spreads fear and misinformation and pits people against each other,” Klosterboer said. “Even though this notice and letter don’t have the force of law, people might mistakenly think they have to report people.”
More reports of “false child abuse,” he said, put even more pressure on an agency such as DFPS.
Paxton compares the procedures to genital mutilation
Pediatric gender affirmation procedures can cause “mental or emotional harm” to a child that can negatively affect the child’s “growth, development, or psychological functioning”, in Paxton’s opinion.
Essentially, Paxton’s opinion compares gender-affirming procedures to sterilization and genital mutilation, citing the racial history of the two terms.
“Historically weaponized against minorities, sterilization procedures have harmed many vulnerable populations, such as African Americans, minors, people with disabilities, and others,” the advisory said.
Paxton underscores his point in the opinion by stating that the procedures “infringe on the fundamental human right to procreate”.
Klosterboer said there was no example of a court in Texas or anywhere else deciding that gender-affirming health care constitutes abuse.
And since so many major medical associations do not classify gender-affirming health care as abuse, Klosterboer said he was confident a court would heed guidelines issued by the highest levels of these widely accepted medical associations. .
“What is clear is that politicians should not be tearing apart loving families – and sending their children into the foster care system – when parents provide recommended medical care that they believe is in their best interest. child,” Murphy said.
Nothing in Paxton’s opinion or Abbott’s letter refers to foster care for children who have received a gender affirmation procedure.
Other state and local officials also responded to Paxton’s opinion. Harris County District Attorney Christian D. Menefee released a statement saying Paxton and Abbott “ignored medical professionals and intentionally misrepresented the law to the detriment of transgender children and their families.”
“My office will not participate in these political games of bad faith. As the lawyers handling these cases, we have a duty of candor with the courts about what the law actually says,” Menefee said. “We will continue to follow the applicable laws, not the politically motivated and legally incorrect ‘opinion’ of General Paxton.”
CNN’s Justin Gamble contributed to this report.