A Court Has Blocked Texas From Investigating Parents Of Trans Youth For "Child Abuse"

A Travis County District Court judge said Gov. Greg Abbott’s actions were “beyond the scope of his duty and unconstitutional.”

A Texas court has temporarily blocked the state from investigating parents of children receiving gender-affirming care for "child abuse."

Travis County District Court Judge Amy Clark Meachum issued the injunction from the bench Friday afternoon, according to the Dallas Morning News and other media outlets. The order comes after the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas sued Gov. Greg Abbott, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, and its commissioner, Jaime Masters, on behalf of a DFPS employee who is the mother of a 16-year-old transgender child.

According to the complaint, the employee, identified only as Jane Doe, was placed on administrative leave on Feb. 23, the day after Abbott called on DFPS to conduct "thorough investigations" into trans youth getting gender-affirming care. On Feb. 25, an investigator showed up at the house where she lives with her child, who the lawsuit states has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria and is receiving "medically necessary care," including puberty blockers and hormone therapy.

During an hours-long hearing, the employee testified that she wished that she hadn't had to talk about her child's health care in front of a judge, the Morning News reported. The LGBTQ civil rights group Lambda Legal, which is representing Jane Doe alongside the ACLU, said the ordeal has made their client's daughter fear she will be taken away from her parents.

"No child should have to fear this simply because she is transgender," the group tweeted Friday shortly before the court's ruling.

Abbott's directive last month came after the state's attorney general, Ken Paxton, issued an opinion deeming that "elective" gender-affirming treatments like mastectomies, puberty-blocking drugs, and sex reassignment surgery could "constitute child abuse" under Texas law. But experts previously told BuzzFeed News that Abbott's letter was legally dubious and not binding.

On Friday, Meachum said the ACLU and Lambda Legal would likely prevail in winning a permanent injunction against the state, saying that Abbott's actions were "beyond the scope of his duty and unconstitutional," according to the Texas Tribune.

During the hearing, the court heard from doctors with expertise in trans health care who said that the treatments are safe and necessary, according to the Morning News. A DFPS supervisor, who said she was resigning over Abbott's order, also testified that investigations into transgender children were now being prioritized by the state and that investigators were directed not to put information about the cases in writing.

“I’ve always felt that, at the end of the day, the department had children’s best interest at heart,” she said, the Tribune reported. “I no longer feel that way.”