The attorney general for Texas has said giving transition care to minors is child abuse under the state’s laws.
Ken Paxton said that medical care such as puberty blockers, hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgeries “must be halted”.
He said the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services “has a responsibility to act accordingly”.
Mr Paxton said: “I’ll do everything I can to protect against those who take advantage of and harm young Texans.”
His opinion was released in response to an inquiry from Republican representative Matt Krause, who asked whether treatments for transgender minors could be considered child abuse.
When an opinion is given by an attorney general, it is an interpretation of existing law – it does not change the law itself.
Attorney general argues treatments are ‘experimental’
Mr Paxton and his supporters have argued gender-affirming treatments are “experimental” and say minors – under the age of 18 – are too young to content to such care.
However, Adri Pèrez, policy and advocacy strategist for LGBTQ equality at the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, said Mr Paxton’s opinion was politically motivated.
They told NBC News: “Ken Paxton’s thoughts on this, no matter what they are, do not affect how a court would or should analyse these issues.
“And as of today, there’s no court in Texas or the entire country that has ever found that gender-affirming care can constitute child abuse.”
Opinion could have consequences for transgender youth
Pèrez said the opinion could have drastic consequences for transgender youth.
“The opinion has a section that says that it is mandatory for teachers, social workers and others of their duty to report child abuse,” they said.
“So even though the opinion is not binding, some people could point to this opinion as a reason to report, and that could increase the amount of false reports that we see being done on parents, it could increase bullying and harassment in schools directed toward trans youth, and bullying and harassment directed to their parents and guardians.”