Court halts child abuse probes into parents of trans kids
An appeals court in Texas has reinstated an injunction that blocked the state from child abuse investigations into parents providing gender-affirming medical care for their children.
While their legality is not yet fully determined, carrying out the probes could cause “irreparable harm,” the Texas Third Court of Appeals ruled on Monday.
“Having reviewed the record, we conclude that reinstating the temporary injunction is necessary to maintain the status quo and preserve the rights of all parties,” it said.
The court was deciding on a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and Lambda Legal on behalf of the parents of a local transgender teen, who were being investigated by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) for potential child abuse.
The family in question was identified only as John, Jane, and Mary Doe. One of its members – Jane Doe, who is herself a DFPS employee – was placed on leave and told that she would be investigated by the agency after the new policy was introduced last month.
Those developments “wreaked havoc on the Doe family,” who now lives in “constant fear,” the lawsuit stated. Their child, Mary, has been “traumatized by the prospect that she could be separated from her parents and could lose access to the medical treatment that has enabled her to thrive,” it added.
The legal standoff began in late February when Governor Greg Abbott said that gender-affirming procedures “constitute child abuse under existing Texas law,” and told the Family and Protective Services to look into families that provide them for their kids.
Earlier this month, District Judge Amy Clark Meachum blocked Abbott’s directive, arguing that it was unconstitutional, represented an overreach of the governor’s authority, and risked violating the separation of powers.
But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced shortly thereafter that Meachum’s order was “frozen” and that probes into “those trying to abuse our kids through ‘trans’ surgeries and prescription drugs” would continue in the state.
Monday’s ruling reinstates Meachum’s block, meaning that investigations into the parents of transgender kids will be put on hold in Texas until higher courts decide if the practice is legal or not. Paxton earlier vowed to take the matter all the way to the US Supreme Court.