The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maine put out a statement on X Tuesday condemning female genital mutilation (FGM) as “a form of child abuse,” and “a serious human rights violation.”
The statement came in response to a Department of Justice (DOJ) statement recognizing Feb. 6 as the “International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation.”
“Female genital mutilation, a form of gender-based violence and child abuse, will not be tolerated today — or any day — in the United States,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole Argentieri of the DOJ’s Criminal Division said Tuesday. “The Justice Department and our law enforcement partners remain committed to holding perpetrators accountable and to providing support for victims of FGM using every tool available to us.”
According to the DOJ, FGM refers to “procedures that injure the female genital organs for non-medical reasons,” and has been a federal crime in the U.S. since 1996.
FGM may refer to any procedure that involves the “partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons,” according to the United Nations.
A bill entitled “An Act to Prohibit Female Genital Mutilation” was considered by the 128th Maine State Legislature, but died between houses in June 2017.
The bill would have made it a Class B crime to perform — and as a parent, to consent to — FGM on a female minor for non-medical purposes.
Although the DOJ didn’t mention sex-change surgeries for minors, which often have the effect of mutilating genitalia, several X users pointed out the disconnect with concern over FGM at a time when many state legislatures, including Maine’s, have recently made it easier for minors to undergo sex-change procedures.
According to MaineCare spending records, genital surgeries on minors are happening in Maine with increasing frequency in the name of so-called “gender affirming care.”
The “Gender Clinic” at Maine Medical Center’s Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital provides referrals to minors for puberty blockers, sex change hormones, and sex change surgeries as part of a “gender affirmative approach to treatment.”
Female-to-male surgeries include “top surgery,” the surgical removal of breast tissue, and “bottom surgery,” the construction and attachment of an artificial penis (phalloplasty) using tissue from the individual’s thigh or forearm.
In July 2023, Maine Gov. Janet Mills signed LD 535 into law, which allows 16-year-olds to obtain puberty blocking drugs and cross sex hormones without their parents knowledge and even in cases when their parents object.
Sex change drugs and surgeries fall under the umbrella of “gender-affirming care,” which refers to treatment for transgender individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
In January, the Maine Wire reported on state guidance that directs Maine Department of Health and Human Services (Maine DHHS) caseworkers to “facilitate access to affirming services” for minors in state custody, to include puberty blockers, hormones, and genital surgeries.