After Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s February directive ordering the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to investigate cases of child gender mutilation as child abuse, a document filed in the Austin appeals court last month reports mass resignations within the agency.

Sixteen current and former DFPS employees petitioned the court to pause child abuse investigations against parents or medical professionals allowing children to receive disfiguring “transgender” treatments until a final decision is made on the directive’s legality.

The employees also refuted the order’s classification of these treatments as child abuse, instead comparing the administration of puberty-blocking drugs and sterilizing cross-sex hormones to “chemotherapy and pain management drugs for cancer patients” and criticized the directive for “radically” disrupting the agency’s status quo.

The filing also describes Abbott’s order as the “last straw” for many DFPS workers and claims that more than 2,000 of the agency’s 12,000 employees have resigned in protest.

Abbott issued his directive in February 2022 after Attorney General Ken Paxton released a 13-page legal opinion classifying child gender mutilation procedures as child abuse and calling for DFPS to “act accordingly.” Paxton previously criticized legislators for failing to outlaw child gender mutilation in the last legislative session, although the issue was an official Texas GOP priority.

“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.”

Following the attorney general’s legal opinion, Abbott issued his directive to DFPS and received pushback from Democrat officials and district attorneys from Dallas County, Bexar County, and Travis County who said they would not prosecute instances of child gender mutilation. Although the order has faced several legal challenges, DFPS has investigated 11 cases involving minors undergoing gender operations.

The 16 DFPS employees who filed last month’s briefing said that DFPS is failing to protect Texas children and instead defended parents and medical professionals providing minors with sterilizing hormones and cutting off their healthy body parts. They also warned that DFPS is on the “brink of collapse” following mass resignations.

“Solely for political purposes, Appellants are deliberately distracting and shifting resources away from that core mission by compelling investigation of loving families who support their transgender adolescents by ensuring they receive medically necessary healthcare in consultation with their physicians and other healthcare providers.”

With Texas’ 2023 legislative session less than six months away, Republican lawmakers will have to decide if they will take legislative action against child gender mutilation procedures.

Katy Marshall

Katy graduated from Tarleton State University in 2021 after majoring in history and minoring in political science.