Always check the label

Who is labeling which what?

Texas’ crackdown on gender affirming care for kids follows the chilling strategy the state used last year to limit abortion access, gay rights advocates warn.

Though Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and Attorney General Ken Paxton’s (R) announcement that gender-affirming care for transgender children is abuse that must be reported and investigated may not survive legal scrutiny, it will likely prevent at-risk children from seeking necessary medical treatment, advocates said. Similar to Texas’s recent abortion law (SB 8), the goal is to scare medical providers from offering certain services.

Ok wait just a damn minute here. Remind us what “gender-affirming care” is? Oh right, it’s surgeries and/or puberty blockers and/or cross-sex hormones – i.e. permanent changes to the child’s body in response to a nebulous state of mind that has been labeled “gender dysphoria.” It’s a drastic intervention with no actual medical necessity, in response to a claimed psychological state. Is that really such an obvious benefit to the child that no state should enact laws mandating caution?

I don’t trust the current Texas legislature as far as I can throw it, that much is true, but reporting on this subject needs to be careful and precise. Tampering with children’s hormones or genitals isn’t just straightforwardly “gender-affirming care” or any other kind of care. It is at the very least risky, and in some cases it will be a disaster.

Abbott’s letter to his agency heads “is very directly saying ‘members of the public report these families, report these children to the state and the state will potentially prosecute them,’” said Dara Purvis, a professor of law at Penn State Law and scholar of family law and gender identity.

It’s definitely not a great plan but then it’s also not a great plan to have doctors stopping or surgically altering puberty on the basis of a belief in wrong-body puberties.

“This combines the vigilante technique of SB 8 with I would describe it as state violence against families and against children,” she said.

But what about the violence of switching puberties?

Medical guidelines don’t recommend children start puberty blockers until the first signs of puberty or start sex hormones until they have the mental capacity to give informed consent, which is typically 16. Sex reassignment surgeries aren’t recommended under the age of 18, under the guidelines from the Endocrine Society.

That still leaves a lot of room for children and adolescents to make drastic decisions they could regret a few years later.

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