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Judge temporarily bans Texas from investigating family over gender-affirming care

Texas agencies are temporarily restricted from investigating a family for providing their child with gender-transitioning procedures, a Travis County District Court judge said Wednesday. Last week, Governor Greg Abbott ordered state agencies, including the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, to investigate gender-transitioning procedures as child abuse.

The temporary restraining order comes a day after the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit on behalf of a family with a transgender child who has been treated for gender dysphoria by a licensed child specialist. The lawsuit argued Abbott’s order violated the constitutional rights of transgender children and their families.

According to the lawsuit, a Child Protective Services officer notified the Texas family that they were under investigation following Abbott’s directive. The officer allegedly requested access to the child’s medical records, which her parents declined to give. The child’s mother has been placed on leave from her job at the DFPS, where she could be fired if state agencies find her guilty.

The court ruled Wednesday that if the agency continues to investigate the family, it would cause “irreparable injury” to them. And it said the family faces “the imminent and ongoing deprivation of their constitutional rights, the potential loss of necessary medical care, and the stigma attached to being the subject of an unfounded child abuse investigation.”

Families who were not included in the lawsuit can still be investigated under Abbott’s directive, which requires licensed professionals to report any instances of children receiving gender-transitioning procedures, as well as state agencies to investigate reported instances of the “abusive” procedures. 

Such procedures include “reassignment surgeries that can cause sterilization, mastectomies, removals of otherwise healthy body parts, and administration of puberty-blocking drugs or supraphysiologic doses of testosterone or estrogen,” Abbott’s order said.

The ACLU, which has condemned Abbott’s order, said it will “continue to defend the rights of trans youth. Today and everyday.”

“This decision grants welcomed relief to our clients — but so many other Texas families remain terrified of being investigated by the state,” the ACLU said on Twitter. 

The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ+ nonprofit, said it is “relieved” by the court’s decision. 

“We are optimistic that judges will continue to see the governor’s action for what it truly is — a politically-motivated opinion that will only pit the government against loving families, teachers against students, doctors against patients, and neighbors against neighbors,” the Trevor Project’s director of advocacy and government affairs Sam Ames said in a statement Wednesday. “Transgender people and our allies will fight this, and we will win.”

A hearing is scheduled next week to determine whether to block Abbott’s order statewide. 

Zoe Christen Jones contributed reporting.



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