The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has offices in Austin.

Credit: Eddie Gaspar/The Texas Tribune

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The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has responded to Gov. Greg Abbott’s request for an interpretation of state law sent last Friday, agreeing that some gender confirmation surgeries for transgender children constitute child abuse.

According to the letter, signed by DFPS Commissioner Jaime Masters, allegations of such surgeries “will be promptly and thoroughly investigated and any appropriate actions will be taken,” though it’s unclear what impact the ruling will have.

Medical experts said gender affirming care for transgender children rarely, if ever, includes use of the surgeries — orchiectomies, hysterectomies and mastectomies — Abbott cited in his letter Friday to Masters. Most care for transgender children includes social transitioning and puberty blockers, which are reversible.

Abbott vowed last month to take action to restrict transition-related medical care for transgender minors in Texas. The move comes after a bill that sought to define several types of gender affirming health care as child abuse was passed by Texas Senate during the regular session before gaining little traction in the House.

For years, Texas Republicans have introduced legislation targeting transgender people, with little success. In 2019, Attorney General Ken Paxton urged state agencies to investigate whether a mother supporting her 7-year-old child’s gender transition was committing “child abuse.”

Earlier this week, former state Sen. Don Huffines, who will challenge Abbott in next year’s Republican primary, criticized the governor for not doing enough to protect Texas children from “mutilation” while touting an endorsement from the father of the transgender child that garnered Paxton’s attention in 2019.

Allyson Waller contributed to this story.

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