Sex-change procedures for minors: Is TX right to potentially prosecute as child abuse?

Marie D. De Jesus / AP

Fact Box

  • On March 1, 2022, Governor Greg Abbott ordered the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate all cases of children undergoing gender transitioning as child abuse after the state’s attorney general affirmed the procedure as abusive. 
  • According to the 2019 Plastic Surgery Statistics by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 11,000 sex-change surgeries were completed in the US, which was about 15% higher than the year prior. 
  • A Heritage Foundation poll found that 57% of Americans oppose the support of puberty-blockers and invasive surgeries on minors with gender dysphoria. 
  • Today, the American Psychological Association (APA) defines ‘gender dysphoria’ (updated in 2013 in the DSM-5 from ‘gender identity disorder’) as the “gender identity-related distress that some transgender people experience (and for which they may seek psychiatric, medical, and surgical treatments).”
  • As of February 24, 2021, a Gallup report estimates 5.6% of US adults identify as LGBTQ, with 11.3% of that group identifying as transgender.

Andrew (No)

Sex change procedures, when carefully considered under the guidance of a medical professional, can have dramatically positive effects on misgendered individuals who undergo them. Gender Dysphoria is a serious medical condition recognized in the DSM; it is unconscionable that any governor would attempt to limit a successful treatment, let alone consider punishing medical professionals who administer procedures. Trans teens have much higher rates of suicide, depression, and self-harm; these treatments can help them live full and rich lives.

Decisions as intimate as making physical changes to one’s body to counter one’s birth sex should be up to individuals, families, and doctors. Frankly, the government should have nothing to do with it. These are deeply personal decisions based on innate feelings, not something that can be legislated with broad strokes at the state level. This is about bodily autonomy and personal liberty, two things Republicans claim to stand for.

This latest order is clearly an example of two Republican politicians attempting to stir up support from their base immediately before an election. In directing the order, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who is facing a crowded field in his primary race, cited a legal opinion by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is facing a difficult election after years of felony fraud charges and professional misconduct. These embattled politicians are attempting to use a popular right-wing tactic of anti-trans activism to help their careers. It is wrong to cause harm to individuals, families, and medical professionals simply to increase the chances of keeping one’s job come election time.

Suzanne (Yes)

Allowing minors to receive “sex change” procedures—specifically “sterilization through castration, vasectomy, hysterectomy, oophorectomy, metoidioplasty, orchiectomy, penectomy, phalloplasty, and vaginoplasty; mastectomies,” as listed in Gov. Abbott’s letter—causes irreparable harm and physical damage to children with “otherwise healthy or non-diseased body part[s] or tissue.” Texas’ stance on this position is commonsensical and just. 

Amid the gender revolution sweeping the nation, the government must promote true justice. Allowing the child abuse law to protect young children from permanent medical mutilation, which causes “mental and emotional injury” and more, is the definition of upholding justice. Philosophically, transgenderism doesn’t hold up under scrutiny, being more of a cultish belief than science. Medically, the drug used in “gender-affirming therapy,” Medroxyprogesterone acetate, is the same drug used to chemically castrate sex offenders. And if a person regrets and “detransitions” from their “new gender,” it comes with the psychological distress of knowing that one can never regrow their true genitals, which were either removed in full through painful reconstructive surgeries or stunted through castration drugs. 

As the American College of Pediatrics proclaimed in 2017, gender ideology is child abuse. Actual “gender-affirming” care would entail helping people accept their bodies as they are, versus cutting them up or making them permanently medically dependent to “achieve” and keep their gender. What’s more, the suicide rate for the trans community is astoundingly high for its population percentage and remains high even after “transition.” The problem is clearly psychological; no amount of invasive and unalterable medical procedures can fix this. Finally, given that people under the age of 25 have underdeveloped brains, children under 18 are in no way able to consent to such life-altering medical decisions permanently affecting their sexuality.

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