A judge temporarily blocked Texas from continuing so-called “child abuse” investigations into families of transgender youth. But the danger is still very present for families.
On Friday, June 10, a judge in Texas blocked the state from continuing its investigations of families of transgender children who have received gender-affirming medical care. The temporary restraining order halts the investigations into families after the state urged officials to treat such treatments as so-called child abuse.
According to Forbes, Travis County Judge, Democrat Jan Soifer, ruled to block the investigations on Friday in response to a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Lambda Legal to stop the ongoing investigations into three families of transgender teens in Texas. The restraining order also blocks investigations into local members of PFLAG, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group, which has approximately 600 members in the state, the publication reports.
The restraining order stems from investigations related to a directive signed by Texas Governor, Republican Greg Abbott, earlier this year. The directive called for “all licensed professionals who have direct contact with children…including doctors, nurses, and teachers” to report parents of transgender youth who receive gender-affirming care for child abuse.
"I do find that there is sufficient reason to believe that the plaintiffs will suffer immediate and irreparable injury if the commissioner and the (Department of Family and Protective Services) are allowed to continue to implement and enforce this new Department rule that equates gender-affirming care with child abuse," Judge Soifer concluded after the 40-minute-long hearing.
The “immediate and irreparable injury” the judge said would happen should the investigations continue is real and a very present threat already. When the directive was first issued, the ACLU called the attack on trans kids from Texas lawmakers to be heinous and warned it could be exceptionally damaging to trans youth and their families. The state’s attack on trans kids is part of a larger movement attacking the rights of trans kids in the country.
However, the Texas directive is unlike any other so far. “Texas is the only state saying providing this lifesaving care could lead to a child being removed from their family and placed in the foster care system,” the ACLU warned back in March.
And that’s exactly what has been playing out. NPR reported on one of the families involved in the current court filings after an investigation into her family began. “The mother of one of the teens said her son attempted suicide and was hospitalized the day Abbott issued his directive,” the publication reports. “The outpatient psychiatric facility where the teen was referred reported the family for child abuse after learning he had been prescribed hormone therapy.”
Under the directive, if an investigation finds the parent committed abuse — which in this case, “abuse” covers seeking medical care for their trans kids, care that is scientifically accepted as lifesaving by all major professional medical associations — the parent would be placed on the Child Abuse Registry. They would also be at risk of facing jail time or having their child removed from their care and put into the foster care system.
Although the latest ruling blocks the harmful investigations from continuing right now, there is still a dangerous risk being levied against parents seeking compassionate gender-affirming care for their children in the state.
"That families will be protected from invasive, unnecessary, and unnerving investigations by DFPS simply for helping their transgender children thrive and be themselves is a very good thing," Brian K. Bond, executive director of PFLAG National, said in a statement. "However, let's be clear: These investigations into loving and affirming families shouldn't be happening in the first place."