A Texas judge on Friday temporarily blocked the state from investigating families of transgender children who have received…a new obstacle for the state labeling such treatments as child abuse.
The temporary restraining order issued by Judge Jan Soifer halts investigations against three families who have filed suit, and prevents similar investigations against members of the LGBTQ advocacy group PFLAG Inc. The group has more than 600 members in Texas.
“I believe there is sufficient reason to believe that the Plaintiffs will suffer immediate and irreparable harm if the Commissioner and the (Department of Family and Protective Services) are allowed to continue to implement and enforce these new department rule that equates gender-affirming care with child abuse,” Soifer said at the end of a roughly 40-minute hearing.
The ruling comes about a month after the Texas Supreme Courtthe state to investigate parents of transgender youth for child abuse, while also ruling in favor of a family that was among the first to be approached by child welfare officials on orders from the Republican government, Greg Abbott.
“Having families protected from invasive, unnecessary and nerve-wracking investigations by the DFPS simply because they help their transgender children thrive and be themselves is a very good thing,” said Brian K. Bond, executive director of PFLAG National, in a statement. . “However, let’s be clear: these loving and affirmative family studies shouldn’t be happening in the first place.”
The latest challenge was filed by Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the families of three teenage boys — two 16-year-olds and one 14-year-old — and PFLAG. A lawyer for Lambda Legal told the judge that after the lawsuit was filed, the 14-year-old’s family learned that the state’s investigation into them had been halted.
Spokespersons for Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday afternoon.
A state attorney argued at the hearing that applying the injunction to a member of the PFLAG was “unsustainable” and would be difficult for the department to obey. But Lambda Legal senior counsel Paul Castillo said parents could simply show their membership card or other proof of membership.
The families had spoken in court files about the fear the investigation had caused them and their children. The mother of one of the teens said her son attempted suicide and was hospitalized the day Abbott issued his directive. The outpatient psychiatric facility the teen was referred to reported the family for child abuse after learning he had been prescribed hormone therapy, she said in a lawsuit.
A judge put Abbott’s injunction on hold in March after a lawsuit filed on behalf of a 16-year-old girl whose family said it was under investigation. The Texas Supreme Court in Maythat the lower court has exceeded its authority by blocking all future investigations.
That lawsuit was the first report from parents under investigation under Abbott’s guideline and a previous non-binding legal opinion from Paxton that labeled certain gender-affirming treatments as “child abuse.” The Texas Department of Family and Protective Service has said it has opened nine investigations in response to the guideline and advice.
and the attorney general’s opinion runs counter to the nation’s largest medical groups, including the American Medical Association, which have opposed Republican-backed restrictions filed in state houses across the country.
Arkansas was the first state last year to pass a law banning gender-affirming treatment for minors, and Tennessee passed a similar measure. A judge blocked the Arkansas law and a federal appeals court will hear arguments in the case next week.