The Slatest

Texas Judge Blocks Investigations of Trans Youth Parents for Child Abuse

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a campaign event on Feb. 23, 2022 in Houston, Texas.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a campaign event on Feb. 23, 2022 in Houston, Texas. Brandon Bell/Getty Images

A judge in Texas temporarily blocked the state from investigating gender-affirming care for transgender youth as child abuse. District Judge Amy Clark Meachum issued a temporary injunction Friday that blocks the state from enforcing Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive that calls on the Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate parents if they receive reports that they’re allowing their children to receive medical treatment to transition genders. If allowed to go forward, the Republican governor’s order would endanger children and their families, the judge said. Meachum said there is a “substantial likelihood” that the lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal will be successful in challenging the governor’s directive.

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The ruling is a victory for LGBTQ groups as well as civil liberties advocates at a time when conservative politicians in several states are moving to criminalize gender-affirming treatment for trans youth. Since Abbott’s directive, the state has opened nine investigations into families who provide this type of medical care to their children. “The court’s decisive ruling today brings some needed relief to trans youth in Texas but we cannot stop fighting,” Brian Klosterboer, ACLU of Texas attorney, said after the ruling.

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The ruling came after hours of testimony during which a Department of Family and Protective Services supervisor said the abuse investigations into families of transgender children were being held to a different standard. Among other things, investigators are required to look into cases even if there’s no actual evidence of abuse. “I’ve always felt that, at the end of the day, the department had children’s best interest at heart,” said Randa Mulanax, an investigative supervisor with DFPS who resigned due to the directive. “I no longer feel that way.”

Abbott issued the directive based on a Feb. 18 non-binding legal opinion from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton days before the state’s March 1 primary election. Paxton vowed to appeal the Meachum’s decision.

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