Paxton’s legal opinion prompted Governor Greg Abbott to ask DFPS Commissioner Jaime Masters “to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation of all reported instances of these abusive procedures in the State of Texas.”
Judge Amy Clark Meachum wrote in an order that the family named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit “will suffer irreparable harm” unless the defendants – Abbott and DFPS Commissioner Jaime Masters – are prevented from investigating the families of transgender children.
Without the temporary restraining order, Meachum wrote, the plaintiffs – identified as Jane, John and Mary Doe – would face “imminent and continuing deprivation of their constitutional rights, potential loss of necessary medical care and stigma related to being the subject of an unsubstantiated child abuse investigation.”
Additionally, Meachum wrote that if Jane Doe, a DFPS employee, were placed on a child abuse registry as a result of the investigation, she “may lose the ability to practice her profession and Jane and John Doe may lose their ability to work with minors and volunteer in their community.
Lawsuit filed on behalf of a DFPS employee
Jane Doe, a DFPS employee, asked her employer to clarify how the governor’s order would affect agency policy, according to the lawsuit. She was then placed on leave “because she has a transgender daughter with a medical need for treatment for gender dysphoria,” according to the lawsuit. DFPS Child Protective Services attended the plaintiffs’ home after being told they were under investigation, according to the lawsuit.
Jane Doe is on leave pending the results of the DFPS investigation, according to court documents. If the investigation found that the parents had committed abuse, they would be placed on the child abuse registry “and would be unduly subject to all the effects that flow from such placement,” according to the lawsuit. Jane Doe could also be fired and therefore lose the family’s medical coverage, according to the lawsuit.
Plaintiffs accuse Abbott and Masters of attempting ‘to legislate by press release’ after the Texas Legislature ‘failed to pass legislation criminalizing well-established and medically necessary treatment for adolescents with gender dysphoria “.
CNN has reached out to the governor’s office, Masters and Paxton for comment.
President Joe Biden blasted Abbott’s order to the DFPS, calling the move “a cynical and dangerous campaign targeting transgender children and their parents.”
“Today, the Department of Health and Human Services announced several actions to keep transgender children in Texas and their families safe – warning the State of Texas that their discriminatory actions are putting children’s lives at risk” , Biden wrote in a statement. “These announcements make it clear that instead of weaponizing child protective services against loving families, child protective agencies should instead expand access to gender-affirming care for transgender children.”
Lawyers argue over language of Paxton’s legal opinion
Meachum, of the 201st Civil District Court, heard arguments Wednesday morning from an attorney for Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ civil rights organization, seeking the temporary restraining order in his lawsuit with the ACLU claiming that the DFPS had already begun investigating the families of transgender teens.
Lambda Legal attorney Paul Castillo argued that his clients risked immediate and irreparable harm as a result of the investigations. He said he was aware of at least two other families, in addition to the family mentioned in the lawsuit, who are under investigation.
Ryan Kercher, an attorney in Paxton’s office, argued that the state is not seeking to investigate “every trans youth or every… young person who undergoes this type of treatment and procedure.” Kercher argued that the language of the opinion is intentionally “framed” to say that this type of health care “could” or “may be” a form of child abuse, especially if there is “an absence of consent”.
The judge said she would issue her ruling later Wednesday after thoroughly reviewing the arguments and documentation.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the terms of the temporary restraining order. The order only applies to plaintiffs in the ACLU’s lawsuit.
CNN’s Gregory Lemos, Andy Rose and Raja Razek contributed to this report.