Texas appeals court blocks state from probing transgender kids’ parents


FILE PHOTO: The U.S. and Texas flags wave as a court hearing is held on Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s order that parents of transgender children be investigated for child abuse, in Austin, Texas, U.S. March 11, 2022. REUTERS/Sergio Flores/File Photo

(Reuters) — A Texas appeals court on Friday upheld a lower court’s injunction blocking the state from investigating parents who provide their transgender children with gender-affirming medical treatments, which Governor Greg Abbott has called abusive.

Abbott, a Republican, had ordered the state Department of Family Protective Services (DFPS) to carry out child abuse investigations into families whose children were receiving puberty-blocking treatments in February 2022.

A month later, a district court judge imposed a statewide temporary injunction on such investigations, saying the probes endangered children and their families.

The appeals court in Austin upheld the district court judge’s injunction in a pair of rulings on Friday, delivering a victory to LGBTQ groups, medical professionals and civil liberties advocates opposing moves by conservative politicians in dozens of states to criminalize the provision of gender-transitioning treatments for trans youth.

«This is a much-needed victory for trans youth and those who love and support them,» the American Civil Liberties Union said on X on Friday.

Representatives for Abbott and the DFPS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Lambda Legal challenged Abbott’s order on behalf of the family of a 16-year-old transgender girl targeted for investigation.

The child had taken puberty-delaying medications and hormone therapy. Her mother was a DFPS employee and was put on paid administrative leave after asking what Abbott’s directive would mean for her family.

In 2022, the district court judge said the governor’s order could cause «irreparable injury» to families, given the stigma attached to being targets of a child abuse investigation, as well as the loss of livelihood.

Texas restricted gender-affirming care for youth in 2023, making it one of more than a dozen states that currently bars young transgender people from receiving certain puberty-blockers and hormone therapies, according to the Human Rights Campaign tracker.

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