Gov. Abbott urges investigation of treatments for trans youth as ‘child abuse’

“Gender-affirming care for transgender youth is essential and can be life-saving,” said Adm. Rachel Levine, deputy secretary of health for the Department of Health and Human Services and the Biden administration’s top-ranking pediatrician, in an emailed statement. “Our nation’s leading pediatricians support evidence-based, gender-affirming care for transgender youth.”

A growing number of transgender youth have sought medical treatment in recent years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, transgender teens are at high risk of committing suicide. Preliminary research has found that adolescents who receive such medical treatments have improved mental health. Long-term studies are ongoing.

Marissa Gonzales, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Family and Safeguarding Services, said no child abuse investigations are pending with the procedures described, but the agency will investigate reported cases.

Whether children can be taken away from their parents for allowing them to receive such medical care is ultimately at the discretion of the courts.

“Right now it’s unclear what child protection services, prosecutors and judges will do with this non-binding opinion from the attorney general,” said Kate Murphy, senior policy associate for child protection at Texans Care for Children, a nonprofit children’s policy group. said in an email statement. “What is clear is that politicians should not tear loving families apart – and send their children into the foster care system – when parents are providing the recommended medical care they believe is in their child’s best interests.”

If local attorneys don’t prosecute cases, the prosecution could do so, Harris County attorney Mr. Menefee said, adding that the position of governor and attorney general could have a chilling effect. “It’s meant to scare parents,” he said. “It was designed to scare doctors into even making gender-affirming healthcare possible.”

Some treatments used in gender specific care carry medical risks. Anti-puberty drugs that suppress testosterone and estrogen production can weaken bone development, although evidence suggests they recover after puberty begins. If blockers are used early in puberty and a teenager is on hormone therapy, the drug therapies can result in loss of fertility. The Standards of Care for Transgender Health therefore recommends that patients and their families be counseled about how to preserve fertility by delaying the use of blockers if having children is important to them. The standards also recommend that doctors and families wait until the teen has reached the age of majority, which is 18 in Texas, before performing irreversible genital surgery. Gov. Abbott urges investigation of treatments for trans youth as ‘child abuse’

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