In a recent interview with Texas Scorecard as part of our Uncut Conversations series, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called out legislators for neglecting to outlaw child gender modification procedures in the last three special sessions.
“I think there should have been more focus on it,” said Paxton. “I know that there were bills floating around that never got out of committee. I don’t know why that is. But if I could’ve passed a bill that would’ve provided greater protections and made the law more clear, I would’ve done it.”
Paxton also addressed the controversy surrounding his delayed reaction to an inquest submitted by State Rep. Matt Krause (R–Fort Worth). In November 2021, the lawmaker sent a letter to Paxton and requested an official opinion from the attorney general’s office on the legality of child gender modification procedures.
At the time, Krause was campaigning against Paxton for attorney general, before later deciding to run for Tarrant County district attorney instead.
Krause’s letter came after Gov. Greg Abbott asked the Department of Family and Protective Services to include the “surgical sexual change procedure of a minor” under the definition of child abuse. Although the agency did change the definition, many conservatives were concerned that the update did not include other methods, such as puberty-blocking drugs.
Attorney General Paxton and his office soon came under fire for taking more than three months to respond to Krause’s letter. In his interview with Texas Scorecard, Paxton criticized Krause’s motives for sending the inquest and defended his office’s slow response time.
“Matt doesn’t understand the process or was using it for political purposes,” said Paxton. “Because the normal process is, we take the same amount of time for all opinions … our job is to be more like a judicial body. We’re not a legislative body. We’re not trying to make up law. We’re trying to figure out what the law is so we can help guide people. We don’t want to come out with something really fast because we don’t want to be wrong.”
Paxton again called out Krause for requesting a statement from the attorney general’s office instead of working to create and promote legislation that directly protects children from gender modification procedures.
“What he really needed to do was focus on getting something passed,” said Paxton. “That was really on the Legislature. It was on him. He failed to do that. That was, I think, a problem with his ability to get stuff done.”
When asked about the legality of these procedures, Paxton doubled down on his stance and continued to place all responsibility with Texas lawmakers.
“I still think it’s child abuse,” said Paxton. “The question is, could the Legislature better define what that is and provide penalties for it?”
State Rep. Bryan Slaton (R–Royse City) has pledged to file legislation to classify “genital removal surgeries, chemical castration, puberty blockers, and all sex change therapies and counseling” as child abuse.
Early voting for the Republican primary begins on February 14. Election Day is on March 1.