Over 800 pages of emails obtained through open records show the response of staff at the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to gender-affirming care screening

Dallas — Attorney General Ken Paxton’s non-binding legal opinion, in which he argued that gender-affirming child care could be considered child abuse, has sent hundreds of people shockwaves through the state agency responsible for investigating abuse Texas Department of Family and Protection Services emails.

The emails, obtained from the WFAA regarding a disclosure request, highlight the agency’s scrambling to understand the February 21 statement and subsequent February 22 directive from Gov. Greg Abbott requesting the DFPS to: Conduct investigations into child abuse of transgender children undergoing gender-affirming care.

Additionally, they reveal some employees’ unease about enforcing Abbott’s orders.

Stephen Black, DFPS Assistant Commissioner for Statewide Admissions, two days after Abbott’s instruction, sent an email with two attachments containing “guidance and direction on how the department should handle gender reassignment admissions.”

DFPS managers forwarded Black’s email to employees while they worked to understand the implications of Paxton’s opinion and how Abbott’s policy should be handled internally.

“I know there are many feelings and more questions than answers right now,” a DFPS executive wrote in an email to staff. “This email is not the platform for opinions or discussions on this subject.”

Marina Yzaguirre, regional director for child protection investigations in Edinburgh, Texas, ordered in a Feb. 23 email that cases of “any admission” or children coming into DFPS custody who are transgender “escalate for further guidance and guidance.” Need to become”. .

“We must treat these as normal investigations,” a regional director wrote via email on Feb. 24.

In a March 1 email to employees, a regional senior attorney warned: “Regarding AG’s Opinion on Gender Reassignment, if the program contacts you with questions or wishes to staff a case on this subject, you must notify me immediately and refrain from providing advice on the subject.”

Abbott’s order directed the DFPS to “conduct expeditious and thorough investigations into all reported cases of Texas children who have undergone abusive sex reassignment procedures.”

“We need to discuss having a designated case worker handle these special cases as they arise,” a director of the investigative program wrote on February 24. “It is requested that these cases be dealt with thoroughly, with no text messages/emails to family etc.”

The American Psychiatric Association, American Medical Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics support gender-affirming care and consider it a medically necessary treatment.

And despite being asked not to do so, several employees expressed their frustration and anger when they received Black’s email regarding Paxton’s legal opinion on February 21.

“I’m going to quit,” one employee wrote in a Feb. 24 email.

Less than an hour later, that employee sent an email to another employee that said, “I have told my boss that I will quit before reporting on a family with a child in transition.”

It is unclear whether the employee still works for DFPS.

In an email dated February 28, another employee spoke openly about her feelings about the investigative order.

“Effing bull poop,” she wrote to a supervisor.

according to a new report from the Houston Chronicle“Nearly 2,300 employees have left the Texas Department of Family and Protection Services since the beginning of the year.”

Several told the Chronicle they left because of orders to screen transgender youth.

In April, more than half a dozen child abuse investigators responded The Texas Tribune that they either resigned or were actively looking for a job as a result of the policy.

Currently, DFPS’ investigations are in a legal limbo as the agency faces many legal challenges related to the order.

In all, DFPS had nine investigations related to Abbott’s transgender youth policy.

As of Aug. 23, eight of the investigations had been completed, according to Marissa Gonzales, director of media relations for DFPS. One case remains open.

“None of the investigations have resulted in the removal of any child,” Gonzales said.

In May, the Texas Supreme Court allowed the investigation to continue but blocked at least one investigation into a family suing the state.

Over the summer, three more child abuse investigations in Travis County were blocked for gender-affirming grooming.

In any case, the emails shed light on the agency’s internal efforts to understand the implications of Governor Abbott’s order and Attorney General Paxton’s opinion.

“I’m not quite sure what that means for us [Statewide Intake]but during the last legislative session our policy changed due to texas law to add [physical abuse] for ‘sex reassignment surgery for non-medical purposes,’” read an email from JR Uribe-Woods, a statewide admissions officer, written on Feb. 23.

The state legislature failed to pass legislation restricting gender-affirming care during its 2021 session.

But last August, in response to a request from Governor Abbott, DFPS is considered a sex reassignment surgery as child abuse, except for those surgeries it deems “medically necessary” to correct “medically detectable genetic disorders in sex development.”

Equality Texas, a statewide LGBTQ+ advocacy group, has criticized Abbott’s motion.

“This is just another political attempt to stigmatize transgender people, their loving families and the healthcare providers who provide them with life-saving care,” said CEO Ricardo Martinez.

Medical experts largely agree that gender-affirming care rarely involves surgery.

If needed, most treatments include puberty or hormone blockers, which delay puberty but can be reversed.

https://www.kvue.com/article/news/local/texas/gov-abbotts-order-to-investigate-trans-youth-elicited-anger-confusion-inside-state-protective-services-internal-emails-open-records/287-f42c4255-4a31-4a32-a63c-83ecb7de0d1b Abbott’s assignment to investigate trans youth sparked anger and confusion

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