Texas Governor’s Investigations Into Parents of Trans Child Temporarily Halted

2021 saw a record-breaking amount of anti-LGBTQ and particularly anti-trans bills. (Ted Eytan / Creative Commons)

On Tuesday, Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, and ACLU of Texas filed a suit in Austin to block the state from performing a child abuse investigation on a family seeking healthcare for a transgender child. The suit was filed on behalf of an employee of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) with a trans child—the exact Texas government body tasked by Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to treat such care as criminal. The suit alleges parents being investigated were not given the right to due process guaranteed under the Texas Constitution. 

On Wednesday, Judge Amy Clark Meachum, a Travis County district court judge, granted a temporary restraining order to prevent the state from this family’s specific child abuse investigation. It will, however, allow other investigations to continue under a controversial directive from Abbott last week instructing the Texas DFPS to investigate gender-affirming care for Texas youth. Attorney General Ken Paxton doubled down on the order, calling trans healthcare for minors “child abuse.” 

According to a 2021 publication from Columbia University’s Department of Psychology, gender-affirming care includes pubertal suppression, hormone therapy and trans-informed therapy, in addition to gender affirmation surgeries. Gender-affirming care has been proven to reduce feelings of gender dysphoria, improve trans people’s mental health and lower rates of depression and anxiety in trans children. 

“For Governor Abbott and Attorney General Paxton, it seems the cruelty is the point,” said Lambda Legal senior counselor Paul Castillo. “They are joining a politically motivated misinformation campaign with no consideration of medical science and seem determined to criminalize parents seeking to care and provide for their kids, and medical professionals abiding by accepted standards of care for transgender youth.”

The Biden administration has also taken these threats in Texas seriously: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) unveiled two memos calling the Texas policy and others like it not only “dangerous,” but frankly illegal.

“These announcements make clear that rather than weaponizing child protective services against loving families, child welfare agencies should instead expand access to gender-affirming care for transgender children,” Biden said Wednesday. The president has also directed HHS to take steps “to keep transgender children in Texas and their families safe—putting the state of Texas on notice that their discriminatory actions put children’s lives at risk.”

2021 saw a record-breaking amount of anti-LGBTQ and particularly anti-trans bills—including prohibiting trans and nonbinary youth from participating in sports, banning access to gender-affirming healthcare and limiting their access to privacy in schools.

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Ramona Flores is an editorial fellow with Ms. and is completing her undergraduate studies at Smith College, with a double major in government and the study of women and gender. Her academic focuses include Marxist feminism, transnational collective organizing and queer history. Her writing covers internet subcultures, reproductive care advocacy and queer theory. She hails from Austin, Texas.