A state judge blocked Texas’ child protection agency from investigating the parents of a transgender teenager who received gender-affirming medical care, citing the “irreparable injury” they would likely suffer. District Judge Amy Clark Meachum’s ruling does not stop the agency from opening investigations into other families in similar situations.
The American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal brought a lawsuit challenging these investigations on behalf of a state employee, her husband and their 16-year-old who received gender-affirming treatment, plus Dr. Megan Mooney, a psychologist who works with trans teenagers.
Meachum will consider issuing a statewide injunction blocking such investigations into all parents of trans children on March 11.
“We appreciate the relief granted to our clients, but this should never have happened and is unfathomably cruel,” Brian Klosterboer, an attorney with ACLU of Texas, said in a statement. “Families should not have to fear being separated because they are providing the best possible health care for their children.”
Lambda Legal lawyer Paul Castillo said he was aware of at least two other families, beyond the Does, who have been contacted by DFPS for investigations. And the chilling effect for parents of trans children has been immense, he said.
“Families aside from [those investigated] will cease care,” he said. “As a result of this order … medical providers have stopped care in terms of prescriptions to transgender kids because the threat of continuing to provide, the harm is so great.”
In Wednesday’s hearing, a lawyer for the state argued that the governor’s letter has been misconstrued to imply that all parents who provide gender-affirming care would be investigated by DFPS.
The opinion from the attorney general was intended to show “not that gender-affirming treatments are necessarily or per se abusive, but that these treatments, like virtually any other implement, could be used by somebody to harm a child,” Assistant Attorney General Ryan Kercher said.
Kercher argued that Abbott’s letter was merely clarifying a “concern” that gender-affirming treatments could never be considered child abuse.
Meachum challenged that argument, asking how common it is for the governor to issue directives like this to DFPS. Kercher said he did not know.
See here, here, and here for the background. A copy of the order is here and the ACLU’s statement is here. The state’s argument that people have “misconstrued” Abbott’s order is one part baffling, one part brazen bullshit, and one part maybe a bit of backpedaling. I get the impression they really didn’t have an argument and so went for the “that’s not what I meant” defense. Let’s just cut to the part where the judge issues the injunction, shall we?