Texas and PFLAG squabble over injunction over trans youth investigations

A Texas state the judge ruled on Friday to shield a larger group of families from a directive from Gov. Greg Abbott (R) that ordered state officials to investigate parents and guardians who sought gender-affirming health care for their transgender children, but an immediate appeal from the state allowed child abuse investigations to continue.

The injunction issued by Travis County District Court Judge Amy Clark Meachum temporarily prevented the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services from “implementing or enforcing” an agency rule, which stemmed of Abbott’s directive, against members of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), an LGBTQ organization that sued the state for the policy. The injunction also protected Adam and Amber Briggle, who also sued after the DFPS launched a family investigation into their teenage transgender son.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (right) immediately appealed the injunction, allowing the DFPS to continue investigating the families. A PFLAG attorney, Shelly Skeen, said after similar appeals — Meachum in July blocked the state from investigating two other families — they received injunctions from an appeals court. It seemed likely that the plaintiffs would do the same in this case.

Texas Governor Orders State Agencies to Investigate Gender-Affirming Care for Trans Youth as ‘Child Abuse’

A representative for Paxton did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday evening. In a briefing filed in May, his office said a judge’s decision to temporarily suspend investigations “prevents a state agency from fulfilling its legal obligation to investigate reported cases of child abuse. “.

Brian K. Bond, National Executive Director of PFLAG, said in a statement that “every LGBTQ+ person deserves respect, dignity and the right to access the care they need when they need it.” Adri Pérez, a strategist at the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, said “state leaders have no business interfering with essential life-saving care for transgender youth.”

The DFPS has classified several cases in which gender-affirming medical care is sought for a child as requiring investigation. This followed a February 22 letter from Abbott to Jaime Masters, the commissioner of the DFPS, ordering the agency to investigate any instances of such “abusive procedures”. Abbott cited a non-binding opinion by Paxton that gender-affirming care “may legally constitute child abuse.”

Meachum’s order sought to prevent the DFPS from investigating families solely on “allegations that they have a minor gender-transitioning child or who is receiving or being prescribed medical treatment for gender dysphoria,” or over allegations that they have a transgender or otherwise gender non-conforming child.

She wrote in her ruling that such investigations could cause “probable, imminent and irreparable harm” to families, including “gross invasions of privacy at home and at school, and the resulting trauma.” for the family, as well as an increased risk of depression and suicide.

Last month, a 13-year-old boy was removed from class and questioned by a DFPS investigator, who investigated the teenager’s medical history and his diagnosis of gender dysphoria. It left him shaking and distressed, his mother said.

Young transgender people who receive puberty blockers, drugs that give them more time to decide about their future, show lower rates of depression and anxiety. A study published in the journal Pediatrics showed that young people who wanted and had access to the drug had lower rates of suicidal ideation.

Dreading the Knock: Parents of Trans Kids in Texas Are Terrified for Their Families

Briggle, one of the complainants, said her son initially thought he could steer DFPS investigators away from the family’s case. Briggle told the Washington Post that he assured her, “I’ll call, I’ll tell them it’s not true, and it will be done.” She said that as a social worker she was afraid that a child abuse charge would cause her to lose her job.

The Texas battle comes as the rights of trans youth are hotly contested across the country. In Montana, officials said Thursday they would block transgender people from changing their sex on their birth certificate, in defiance of a judge’s order. Virginia said Friday it would require transgender students to use school facilities and programs based on the sex they were assigned at birth.

Texas under Abbott has increasingly become a bastion of extremely conservative social policies. The state has one of the strictest abortion laws in the country, and Abbott said this week that he was responsible for sending two buses of migrants from the US-Mexico border to the official residence of the Vice President Kamala Harris.

María Luisa Paúl and Caitlin Gibson contributed to this report.


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