In February, Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered state agencies to launch investigations targeting families with transgender youth. The governor wrote a letter to the state’s Department of Family & Protective Services urging them to look into gender-affirming care that disrupts puberty as a form of child abuse. However, according to the Associated Press, a judge temporarily blocked Abbott’s order with a restraining order.
The governor drew inspiration from a legal opinion published by state Attorney General Ken Paxton that same month. AG Ken suggested Texas law should recognize gender-affirming medical care, such as surgeries or drugs, as child abuse if those elements affect puberty. In addition to doubling down on AG Ken’s opinion, the governor encouraged professionals, including doctors, nurses, and teachers, to report families. However, he reminded professionals that choosing not to report instances of child abuse can lead to “criminal penalties.”
According to CNN, three Texas families with transgender children responded to the state-led investigations by filing a lawsuit.
Judge Jan Soifer’s block will protect these three families by halting investigations against them. Additionally, the block prevents investigations against members of an advocacy group named PFLAG Inc., which joined the families in the lawsuit against the governor, DFPS, and the agency’s commissioner Jaime Masters. The PFLAG group includes more than 600 members in Texas, per AP.
“I do find that there is sufficient reason to believe that the plaintiffs will suffer immediate and irreparable injury if the commissioner and the Department of Family & Protective Services are allowed to continue to implement and enforce this new Department rule that equates gender-affirming care with child abuse,” Judge Jan said.
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