Texas Children's Hospital halts puberty blockers for gender transition after AG 'child abuse' label

Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas, announced that it would stop prescribing puberty blockers after Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an opinion labeling them a form of “child abuse.” | Wikimedia Commons/WhisperToMe

The largest pediatric hospital in Texas has announced that it will no longer provide puberty blockers to children after the state’s Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote an opinion labeling the practice “child abuse.”

In a statement Friday, the Houston-based Texas Children’s Hospital, the largest pediatric hospital in both the United States and Texas, announced that it will pause “hormone-related prescription therapies for gender-affirming services.”

The hospital cited the “Attorney General’s and Governor’s Actions” as factors in its decision, referring to Paxton’s assertion in last month’s non-binding Opinion No. KP-0401 that the prescription of puberty-blocking drugs “can legally constitute child abuse under several provisions of chapter 261 of the Texas Family Code.”

“The mission of Texas Children’s Hospital is to create a healthier future for all children, including transgender children, within the bounds of the law,” the hospital added. “This step was taken to safeguard our health care professionals and impacted families from potential criminal legal ramifications.” 

Paxton reacted to the hospital’s decision in a tweet Friday, remarking that he was “glad to hear that today Texas Children’s Hospital halted their child-abuse procedures.”

In his non-binding legal opinion, the attorney general maintained that sterilization of minors by removing their genitalia and the prescription of puberty-blocking drugs can cause “mental or emotional injury to a child that results in an observable and material impairment in the child’s growth, development, or psychological funding.”

“These procedures and treatments can ‘caus[e] or permit[] the child to be in a situation in which the child sustains a mental or emotional injury that results in an observable and material impairment in the child’s growth, development, or psychological funding,’” he added.

Paxton also warned that the procedures can cause a “physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child.”

As Texas Children’s Hospital indicated, Paxton is not the only public official in the state to view puberty-blocking drugs and gender reassignment surgery for minors as a form of child abuse.

Last summer, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services commissioner wrote a letter classifying “genital mutilation of a child through reassignment surgery” as child abuse in response to a request from Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. 

Last week, President Joe Biden released a statement slamming elected leaders in Texas for launching a “cynical and dangerous campaign targeting transgender children and their parents.” 

“Like so many anti-transgender attacks proliferating in states across the country, the Governor’s actions callously threaten to harm children and their families just to score political points,” the statement reads. “These actions are terrifying many families in Texas and beyond. And they must stop.”

The president insisted that contrary to what Texas officials are proclaiming, “Respected medical organizations have said that access to gender-affirming care for transgender children can benefit mental health, lower suicide rates, and improve other health outcomes.”

The American Medical Association wrote an open letter to the National Governors’ Association expressing opposition to efforts to interfere in the “health care of transgender children.”

However, the conservative American College of Pediatricians has long voiced its opposition to using puberty-blocking drugs on children with gender dysphoria, calling such treatments "experimental." 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, led by Xavier Becerra, also condemned what he described as “the Texas government’s attacks against transgender youth and those who love and care for them.”

HHS issued guidance “making clear that denials of health care based on gender identity are illegal, as is restricting doctors and health care providers from providing care because of a patient’s gender identity.” 

The push to declare gender reassignment surgeries for minors child abuse follows the airing of a “60 Minutes” segment featuring testimony from “detransitioners” who underwent medical procedures to change their gender when they were younger only to regret doing so when they got older. They reverted back to identifying with their biological gender. 

Many of those the newsmagazine program spoke with contend they were rushed into “gender-affirming” care and continue to suffer adverse health consequences due to their previous embrace of “gender affirmation.”

The Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved the use of puberty-blocking drugs for the sake of gender transition but has approved such medication for children who start puberty at a very young age. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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