Texas Judge Halts Abuse Investigations of Families With Transgender Youth
Families of youth who receive gender-affirming care gained a temporary reprieve from harassment from Texas’ Department of Family and Child Protective Services (DFPS) on Friday. Travis County District Judge Jan Soifer issued a temporary restraining order in a lawsuit filed by Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of the families of three boys and PFLAG, an LGBTQ advocacy group.
An attorney for the state argued that it was unreasonable to expect DFPS to comply with an order preventing them from investigating child abuse allegations against families allowing their transgender children’s prescribed hormone replacement therapy (HRT). However, Lambda Legal senior counsel Paul Castillo countered that the parents could present their membership receipt or another proof of affiliation: There are more than 600 PFLAG members in Texas.
Court filings reveal the families’ statements about the anxiety the investigations created for them and their youth. For example, one of the mothers described her son’s reaction to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive.
She explained her son attempted suicide and was hospitalized after the same day Abbott issued his orders. After learning the youth was on HRT, the outpatient psychiatric facility reported the family for child abuse, according to the Associated Press.
The Lambda Legal and ACLU case comes after another judge blocked DFPS from investigating child abuse allegations against the family of a 16-year-old girl in March. In May, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the lower court overstepped its authority by blocking all gender-related child abuse investigations.
While the Executive Director of PFLAG National praised Friday’s ruling to stop the “invasive, unnecessary, and unnerving investigations,” he declared:
Let’s be clear: These investigations into loving and affirming families shouldn’t be happening in the first place.
The ongoing and uphill battle to protect families’ right to seek medically recommended treatment for children’s gender dysphoria stems from Abbott’s directive and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s opinion that goes against the American Medical Association (AMA) and other medical guidance.
Texas Joins Other Republican-led States Banning Gender-Affirming Care for Minors
Arkansas was the first state to prohibit health care professionals from providing or referring anyone under 18 for gender-affirming treatment. The new law would also ban doctors from performing gender-confirming surgery. After Gov. Asa Hutchinson refused to sign the legislation in April 2021, the state’s Senate overrode his veto. The law was set to go into effect on July 28, but on July 21, a federal court blocked the law.
Gov. Bill Lee signed Tennessee’s law against HRT for prepubescent minors on May 20, 2021; it was the third anti-transgender law he signed in a week. The ban on doctors prescribing gender-confirming hormone treatment went into effect immediately.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis began to lay a foundation to restrict Medicaid coverage for transgender people of any age to obtain puberty blockers, hormone therapies, or gender-reassignment surgery and ban transition-related care for minors, according to NBC News on June 2, 2022.
The nation’s largest LGBTQ rights group, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) will continue to monitor and fight against anti-transgender laws. Alphonso David, the HRC president said: “If lawmakers really care about the interests of trans youth, they would focus on improving access to quality health care instead of playing doctor themselves. Patients, parents, and health care providers should be guided by science and best medical practices…when seeking treatments, not the whims of the state legislators.”
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
AP: Judge blocks Texas investigating families of trans youth; by Andrew DeMillo
AP: Mixed Texas ruling allows trans youth parent investigations; by Paul J. Weber and Acacia Coronado
The Texas Tribune: Judge temporarily blocks some Texas investigations into gender-affirming care for trans kids; by Eleanor Klibanoff
NBC News: DeSantis moves to ban transition care for transgender youths, Medicaid recipients; by Marc Caputo
NBC News: Tennessee governor OKs transgender youth treatment ban
ACLU: Federal Court Blocks Arkansas Ban on Gender-Affirming Care for Trans Youth From Moving Forward
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Diverse Stock Images’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Carol Von Canon’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License