Did Greg Abbott Order an Agency to ‘Investigate All Trans Children’?

A viral post from popular left-wing Facebook page The Other 98% claims that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered “Family and Protective Services to begin investigating all trans children in Texas and prosecuting their parents as abusers.” The post also claims that the Texas government now requires teachers, doctors, and caregivers to report trans children to the government.


Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton determined that putting a child through sex change operations or puberty-blocking drugs constitutes child abuse. Paxton’s rationale was that such procedures can sterilize those who go through them, infringing on their future ability to enjoy “the fundamental right to procreation.” Paxton further noted children are not legally allowed to be sterilized, with Medicaid establishing 21 as the minimum age for such a procedure. Even with parental consent, such a procedure cannot be done to someone younger. 

Paxton also wrote that somewhere between 61 percent and 98 percent of children who question their gender return to their biological sex for their gender identity. Given the irreversibility of the procedure, Paxton determined that putting a child through a procedure they were likely to regret was harmful not just for biological reasons but for emotional ones as well. There is some debate over the percentage of trans children who detransition, with follow-up studies finding numbers in line with what Paxton claims but critics saying that these studies include participants who don’t actually meet the criteria of gender dysphoria. 

Citing Paxton’s opinion, Abbott instructed the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services “to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation of any reported instances of these abusive procedures in the State of Texas.”

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  • No doubt this marks me out as "transphobic," but this is an adult decision and should be made only by adults. Please note I am only referring to irreversible changes. The same people who are fine with this are also fine with raising the smoking age to 21, which is ludicrously hypocritical.

    1. It is an adult decision unless all the doctors are Doogie Howsers. I assume parental/guardian consent, if not, a law dictating that is reasonable.

      1. I think you misunderstood. He means the person getting the surgery should be an adult who can make a decision as an adult for themselves.

        1. Got it.

          I would still leave the tradeoffs to child/parent/doctor or adult/doctor consultations as dictated by the standards of practice established by the healthcare institutions. Abbot must keep his butt off cynical vote getting by preying on trans kids.

  • The comnents on this topic don't address the real issue. Abbott and Paxton are horrible humans who prey on the most vulnerable of all. Trans kids. They get away with it because typical voters are mean about people that are "different". Many politicians in the GOP made hay out of homosexuals for a long time but the returns are diminishing. So they move to the next target, because scum does what scum does.

    There are ~100,000 genes in human DNA. We don't yet have sufficient systems knowledge to discern the complex interactions. This is not unique to humans. The animal kingdom has similar phenomenon.

    A few % get mixed up...statistically it makes sense. The nurture bit is nonsense.

    I know a few trans kids. They are gentle, confused, vulnerable, even suicidal.

    Love them you aholes. Don't prey on them for votes.

    1. 20-25,000 genes. 100,000 is out of date. And is it so hard to grasp that some people don’t want 15 year olds making irrevocable decisions precisely because we do care?

      1. Since when was this about 15-year-olds making decisions? Greg Abbott doesn't think THEIR PARENTS should have the right to make these decisions either. If you as a parent seek medical advice for your child, and spend years working with doctors to do what everyone involved understands is in your child's best interest, Gov. Abbott wants you to know that by the power vested in him by the voters of Texas, he's a smarter doctor than yours, and a better parent than you. And by the way, you're an abuser.

        He's from the government and he's here to help.

        1. No one is forcing children to get sterilized against their will. At some point, this stems from their wishes.

          1. Indeed. The parents, psychologists, and doctors will not force a child to undergo a treatment they do not want. I think it is patently dishonest to imply that this means the child is the one making the decision to undergo a treatment they DO want. At the end of the day, the adults have to approve it.

            If minors in Texas are somehow accessing gender confirmation treatments with no parental involvement or doctor supervision, _that_ is what you need to crack down on. I suspect you won't find a lot of that, though.

            But until then, this is still Greg Abbott sticking his nose into how parents choose to raise their children. If you're a parent who lives in a state whose governor may have different parenting philosophy than you, this should scare you.

      2. It warms my cockles to learn that Abbott was stricken by love and compassion to trans kids.

  • Thank you for the fact check—-

  • Despite my distaste for Paxton and Abbott, I do think that sex reassignment of young children is at best extremely problematic. The "Other 98%" claim is the epitome of a straw man.

    1. If they had just stuck with cracking down on sex reassignment of young children, that would be one thing. Nobody does that anyway, and nobody is in favor of it.

      "Sex reassignment of young children" is, you guessed it, a straw man.

    2. Here's the question though... Let's posit that it's not the ideal solution (on account of we, as humanity, haven't found the ideal solution). What's the least worst option?

      Doing nothing? We know by now that the "doing nothing" option is also, at best, extremely problematic with between 25% and 30% of adolescents with gender dysphoria attempting suicide at some point, and let's not get into how many of those succeeded. Those who don't tend to have a high rate of chronic depression and suffer throughout life. So it seems doing nothing isn't an option.

      Psychiatric treatment or some form of indoctrination? As far as I know, gender dysphoria will not even be considered for any form of treatment without psychiatric evaluation in the first place. As for "curing" the gender dysphoria itself, well, it hasn't worked very well for curing gayness, so this might not be fully ethical here either. There isn't really much evidence showing better outcomes on praying away the gender either compared to the "doing nothing" option.

      Finally, and I think this is crucial, by and large I don't think the gender dysphoria treatments aim to put young children under the knife. For young children, the typical procedure would be something like puberty blockers to delay the onset of puberty while the child matures mentally, giving them time to explore their (potential) new identity. This is considered a reversible treatment; terminating the puberty blockers, possibly supplemented with hormones, will resume puberty. Hormone therapy shouldn't start until around age 15 or 16. Surgery would come last. This is by no means perfect, and the understanding is of course evolving with every year, but as far as I know this is the least worst option we know of as of today that inflicts the least amount of long-term suffering.

      1. I have seen different reports on the reversiblilty and the potential long term side effects of puberty blockers, I don't think it is as harmless as some are claiming.
        As I understand it, it is the cross sex hormones though that result in sterilization. 15 or 16 still seems too young to make that kind of permanent decision, especially if the majority of trans kids return to their biological sex when they grow up. Even if they don't, waiting until they are adults to pursue hormone treatment seems to be the best option for lifelong health.

        I am frustrated by the seeming lack of agreed upon data on the subject. But there does seem to be a huge rise in trans cases among kids. Shouldn't that face give us pause when it comes to medical intervention?

        I don't think we should do nothing, and I agree with the commenter who said we should love these kids. Part of loving children is listening to them and valuing what they say, and part of loving them is protecting them, sometimes even from what they want.

        1. "The majority" of trans kids do not return to their biological sex. If anyone told you that, they're peddling misinformation. Maybe it has a basis in fact if you count any kid who at some point has questioned their gender identity, or been a tomboy or a... we don't have a word for the inverse, do we? But that is not relevant in terms of medical treatment. You don't go from "I wonder if I'm really a girl" to "OK, let's get that penis chopped off, does Tuesday work for you?" A transgender diagnosis is a whole psychological evaluation, and it goes on for years, and it results in very very few false positives.

          The risks of medical transition are real if your diagnosis is a rare false positive, but the risks of _denying_ medical transition at puberty are real too. Irreversible, even. Imagine living a full life as a woman over 6' tall, deep voice, pronounced facial hair, straight hips, masculine face shape. When ALL OF THAT WAS AVOIDABLE if only Greg Abbott didn't think he knew better than you or your parents when you were 14. When you say "let them wait until they're adults", this is what you are advocating. Easy for you to say. You (I'm guessing) aren't living those consequences.

          (Yes, trans people can live full and happy lives having transitioned after puberty. But if you ask them, I reckon a vast majority will wish they had had access to treatment earlier.)

          There do exist people who begin gender transition and later detransition. Not a lot, though. Anecdotally, the one person I know who did this, her choice to detransition was because of family/society/religious pressure. Since she was still trans, she later re-transitioned. So her story is hardly a point in your favor.

          1. There are studies that claim a high proportion of "detransition" and studies that claim low proportions. It strongly depends on the definition of "detransition".

            The most encompassing ones include in the definition of "detransition" cases that a person may have begun psychological evaluation for gender dysphoria or self-identified as "trans" at some point, but later on changed their identification.

            The strictest ones include in the definition of "detransition" only cases where medical intervention has been completed that is then undone.

            I would assume BFreitag has been shown those most loosely defining studies, such as the ones quoted by Paxton. This is unfortunate, as those studies include in the "detransitioning" category individuals who never even begun hormone therapy, let alone completed a medical procedure.

            In a meta analysis of more than 70 studies [1], the prevalence of regret after transition surgery was at the 1% level. The authors attribute this to "a reflection on the improvements in the selection criteria for surgery", that is, increased efforts by the medical community to only apply surgery to those who absolutely positively most need it.

            [1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8099405/

        2. There is no medical intervention that is truly harmless nor have side effects. They all do, at least with our current level of technological advancement.

          The ages I listed are (unfortunately) also there due to the volume of surgery needed. Puberty blockers can only be used for so long before the side effects outweigh the benefits and there are multiple questions related to their long-term use, but they do have a benefit in requiring less invasive surgery should gender confirmation surgery be truly needed. The longer you wait, the more invasive the process becomes, unfortunately.

          "I am frustrated by the seeming lack of agreed upon data on the subject."

          It's difficult to get accurate data here, because it is a sensitive topic on many ethical sides. We can't exactly do experiments on gender transitioning mice and apply it to human beings, and it's a fraught area with psychology in the mix as well.

          We can't get agreed upon data without experimenting on children, and we can agree that we don't really want to do experiments on children. A bit of a catch 22. We 'solve' this catch 22 by making small exemptions. If those turn out fine we make larger exemptions, and so forth. This doesn't make it risk-free, but it's the least worst option we know of.

          "But there does seem to be a huge rise in trans cases among kids. Shouldn't that face give us pause when it comes to medical intervention?"

          No. Not in and of itself. This is the same line of questioning that assumes because we have more diagnosed cases of autism, it means vaccines cause autism, not that we have become better at diagnosing and recognising autism.

          We should absolutely recognise that there is greater recognition of sexual identity in adolescents today than there has been before. Gender Dysphoria wasn't even an (officially) diagnosable condition in the US until the publication of DSM-5 in 2013. This will cause a "rise" in the number of cases because you can barely have a case if you haven't defined it, or know about it. It'd show up as "depression" or "suicidal tendencies" before that.

          Does that mean every single one of those go under the knife? No. That is why non-invasive procedures are part of the package. To allow the child to "try out" the different gender role and see if they stick with it or if it turns out to be a different root cause.

  • Isn't this fact check burying the lede a bit?
    First let me stipulate that the viral post is false - Abbott is not ordering *all* trans children to be investigated.
    He *is* ordering his agencies to investigate - for child abuse - parents of any trans children who undergo any type of gender confirmation treatment (hormonal or surgical), and healthcare providers involved in such care.

    That does seem like a b.f.d. to this healthcare provider.

    Gender confirmation treatments are currently considered mainstream and widely accepted healthcare treatments in the US. For a government agent to unilaterally declare them to be child abuse, absent anything remotely close to consensus against - or even widespread disagreement with - these treatments among healthcare experts is bonkers.
    What's next? COVID vaccines for kids are child abuse?

    1. While I agree with you on those points, that is, for better or worse, not the role of a fact check to state. I do consider the straight up "no" in the title, while signature, a bit on the nose. But "Did Abbot order all trans children to be investigated? No, only some of them" isn't quite as catchy a title I'll grant.

      Having said that, in re the other points, while I have severe doubts that Paxton and Abbot hold sincere convictions to that effect given how opportunistic they have proven themselves, you may wish to consider that a good chunk of the population -- see Mike B's comment for example -- are uncomfortable or unsure about these treatments. While brave political leadership such as this certainly doesn't help, the situation is in our age of Dunning-Kruger, we cannot rely on consensus within journals.

      1. It seems really questionable for underage kids to make a life changing irreversible decision about almost anything. I'm dubious of allowing tattoos to be honest but I admit on that I'm probably biased.

        So I definitely won't speak to or defend Abbot in general, I do think a lot of people have these concerns and if a parent is pushing the child then it's all that much worse.

        I'm also of the opinion that professionals can make their case effectively and if they cannot they should not be deferred to in the blind. At least not unless time is so critical it's impossible for them to make their case before something really bad happens. There are plenty of professionals across the ages who have been wrong.

        If there is no clear consensus on the assertions made by Texas, I would tend to lean towards the least irrevocable approach.

        1. Professionals have made their case. The protocols for care of transgender adults and children weren't just invented out of whole cloth yesterday. There's a whole field of research here, doctors from many many fields involved - psychiatry, pediatrics, ob/gyn, urology, surgery, plastic surgery. They've already made their case and convinced their peers.

          What case has Abbott or Paxton made?

        2. If a kid is transgender, they have to make a life-changing irreversible decision EITHER WAY. Once you've gone through puberty, many of those changes are irreversible, though plastic surgery can handle a few of them, like face shape.

          Easy for you and Greg Abbott to say you know better than these kids and their parents about the risks and tradeoffs of gender transition. You (probably) haven't faced those risks and tradeoffs yourself.

          Or maybe you think these kids, their parents, and their doctors are completely unaware of the risks and tradeoffs they are faced with? That they are so captured by gender ideology that they are incapable of rational decision-making? So that it's necessary for the State of Texas to save them from themselves?

          That's one thing that gets me. Republicans have somehow decided that, on the one hand, gender ideology is almost a religion (as opposed to legitimate medical science), but on the other hand, the State should override parents' "religious" freedom to do what they think is best for their families.

          (Though I'm not sure why that surprises me. "Religious freedom for me but not for thee" is not really new. E.g., a lot of advocates of public prayer in schools would do a pretty quick 180 if their kids' teacher started inviting the kids to join him in kneeling on rugs facing Mecca.)

        3. I've been in education for a long time. Being a professional definitely does not make one immune from jumping on popular trends with only scant evidence to support it. It still seems like a bad idea for parents or doctors to be sterilizing children.

      2. If you cannot rely on the consensus of experts when dealing with their subject matter expertise, what can you rely on? Greg Abbotts gut?
        This is not a like COVID lockdowns where scientists can say "a lockdown will decrease deaths" but the politicians must take other factors (like economic effects) to determine what to do. These are parents and doctors trying to do the best they can for their kids. If you think that these treatments are unethical, do the work - fund the research that will change the consensus of the medical establishment.
        Declaring that anyone involved in the care of transitioning kids is a child abuser is a bridge too far .

        1. Yes, I believe Truthiness was coined a decade and change ago to describe this exact phenomenon. Greg Abbotts gut specifically.

          And while I agree with you that labelling medical professionals trying to do what's the current best knowledge as "child abusers" is... let's charitably call it ungrateful... the bigger challenge here is that, generally for worse, we're in an information war (no pun intended with detestable people's podcasts).

          And, thus far, many in the world of journals have assumed that the "truth" will win the information war, and the internet will help in spreading facts. But we can see empathically that's not the case. We will find many well-intentioned people who will sympathize with the cause (maybe not the methods, but they won't object to the methods) because they've found empathic voices convincing them of some point or another.

          Long story short... most laypeople won't read journals but will watch YouTube. For the good of society, universities need to acknowledge that and do more TED-like presentations, more Kurzgesagt.

    2. That's the real point, isn't it? Greg and Ken have decided they know more about standard of care than the medical professionals. And not only that, but the state knows what's best for your children better than either doctors, parents, or the teen in question.

      If it weren't for the culture war aspect of wanting to suppress icky people and pretend they aren't real, this would be baffling.

  • While this article is technically correct, I believe it could've benefited by an introductory definition sentence.

    As far as I can tell, the order, as written, applies to any child in any stage of any process of gender reassignment, including puberty blockers, and requires DFPS to investigate any reported instance of any of the procedures. So while it doesn't target any child that identifies as "trans", it does include any child in any stage of "transitioning".

    A generous reading of the quoted post using "transitioning genders" as the reading of "trans" then it does apply. This distinction is assumed, but not explicitly stated, in the fact check.

  • Paxton's opinion actually covers much more than just sex changing surgeries, which is why there it raised concerns. Abbott's order does not amount to investigating "all" transgender students, but it would apply the possible standard to accepted treatments. So there's no doubt there was some culture-war point scoring going on.

  • I had not heard of The Other 98%, but as someone in the 98th-99th percentile, I am shocked that the revolution finally broadened it's sights to exclude me.