Texas governor’s order to treat transgender children’s care as child abuse is blocked by judge

Policy has caused ‘terror and anxiety’ among transgender youth and their families, lawsuit says

Sravasti Dasgupta
Saturday 12 March 2022 11:04 GMT
Texas judge blocks investigations into parents of trans children

A judge in Texas has blocked the state from enforcing a new order to investigate gender-affirming care of minors as potential “child abuse”.

The court’s order came on a case filed by a Texas family with a transgender child asking for a restraining order against the policy.

Judge Amy Clark Meachum in Travis County said on Friday evening: “The court finds sufficient cause to enter a temporary injunction,” reported CNN.

On 22 February, governor Greg Abbott ordered the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate the use of medical treatments such as puberty blockers, hormone therapy and gender-confirmation surgery on transgender children.

He said that he had come to the decision based on the legal opinion of his attorney general Ken Paxton, who declared that so-called “‘sex-change’ procedures on children” would be considered “child abuse” in the state of Texas.

“These procedures are monstrous and tragic. I’ll do everything I can to protect against those who take advantage of and harm young Texans,” Mr Paxton wrote last month.

Judge Meachum said the governor’s order was “beyond the scope of his authority and unconstitutional”, and added that the parents of the transgender child in this case were likely to succeed at trial, which is set for July.

The family said that the policy unfairly targets children and parents grappling with gender dysphoria.

The family – identified only as John, Jane, and Mary Doe – is being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal, an LGBT+ rights organisation.

“The Defendants have, without Constitutional or statutory authority, acted to create a new definition of ‘child abuse’ that singles out a subset of loving parents for scrutiny, investigation, and potential family separation,” the lawsuit said. “Their actions caused terror and anxiety among transgender youth and their families across the Lone Star State and singled out transgender youth and their families for discrimination and harassment.”

The lawsuit said that the plaintiff Jane Doe was one of the parents targeted for investigation. Ironically, the woman works at DFPS.

When she asked her boss how the new policy would affect her job, her lawyers said she was placed on leave and told she would be investigated.

In a statement on Friday, Paul Castillo, senior counsel at Lambda Legal, said: “We feel relieved and vindicated that the judge understood the magnitude and breadth of the harm that would have resulted if Texas’ child welfare agency – at the direction of the governor – were allowed to continue enforcing this lawless directive.”

However, the attorney general has promised to challenge the order.

“Democrat judge tries to halt legal and necessary investigations into those trying to abuse our kids through ‘trans’ surgeries and prescription drugs,” Mr Paxton said in a tweet.

“I’m appealing. I’ll win this fight to protect our Texas children.”

The Republican politicians’ statements have been widely condemned by trans rights groups, with the Transgender Education Network of Texas saying Mr Paxton was using his position of power “to bully some of Texas’s most vulnerable children yet again”.

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