A judge in Texas has at least temporarily halted a state-based investigation into the family of a transgender girl after Governor Greg Abbott issued a directive calling on officials to look into “any reported instances” of children receiving gender-affirming care.
The ruling came one day after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Texas, and Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit on behalf of the 16-year-old transgender girl and her parents in a bid to stop the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) from carrying out its investigation into the family.
District Court Judge Amy Clark Meachum of Travis County granted the temporary restraining order, though it is limited to the individuals involved in the lawsuit. A follow-up hearing has been scheduled for March 11 to determine whether to bar broader implementation of the directive.
The suit was filed after the transgender teen’s mother, who works for DFPS, was placed on leave and received a home visit from the agency after asking her supervisor how DFPS should navigate the governor’s February 22 directive, which was issued after Attorney General Ken Paxton presented a legal opinion declaring gender-affirming care to be a form of “child abuse.”
“That same day, and just mere hours later, [the child’s mother] was placed on leave from her employment because she has a transgender daughter with a medical need for treatment of gender dysphoria,” the lawsuit alleged.
Megan Mooney, a licensed psychologist who is unable to follow the directive without violating ethical guidelines, also joined the lawsuit. Abbott’s letter said “all licensed professionals who have direct contact with children” including “doctors, nurses, and teachers” must report the children or face criminal penalties.
The lawsuit accused the governor of violating state law and the constitution, as well as the defendants’ constitutional rights.
“We are relieved that — at least for now — the threat of a child abuse investigation is no longer hanging over the heads of the family members in this case,” Lambda Legal senior counsel Paul Castillo said in a written statement. “It is unconscionable for DFPS to still pursue any investigation or inflict more trauma and harm. We look forward to continuing the fight for all Texas families.”
Chase Strangio, deputy director for trans justice with the ACLU LGBTQ & HIV Project, said the development represented a “critical victory” and an “important first step” in the larger campaign to push back against the state’s transphobic regulations.
“We are relieved for our plaintiffs and ready to keep fighting to stop the governor, commissioner, and DFPS from inflicting further harm on trans people and their families and communities across Texas,” Strangio said.