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Judge blocks Texas investigation of trans teen’s parents over treatments

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott last week ordered that officials look into reports of such treatments as abuse.
Image: Transgender Texans Criticize Abbott Directive
Texas transgender youth, their loved ones and families rally against Governor Greg Abbott's directive to state health agencies to investigate gender-affirming care to transgender youth as child abuse, in Austin, Texas, on March 1, 2022.Bob Daemmrich / Zuma Press
/ Source: AP (Associated Press)

A Texas judge on Wednesday blocked the state from investigating the parents of a transgender teenager over gender-confirmation treatments, but stopped short of preventing the state from looking into other reports about children receiving similar care.

District Judge Amy Clark Meachum issued a temporary order halting the investigation by the Department of Family and Protective Services into the parents of the 16-year-old girl. The parents sued over the investigation and Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s order last week that officials look into reports of such treatments as abuse.

Meachum wrote that the parents and the teen “face the imminent and ongoing deprivation of their constitutional rights, the potential loss of necessary medical care, and the stigma attached to being the subject of an unfounded child abuse investigation.”

Clark set a March 11 hearing on whether to issue a broader temporary order blocking enforcement of Abbott’s directive.

The lawsuit marked the first report of parents being investigated following Abbott’s directive and an earlier nonbinding legal opinion by Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton labeling certain gender-confirmation treatments as “child abuse.” The American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal sued the state Tuesday on behalf of the teen.

“We appreciate the relief granted to our clients, but this should never have happened and is unfathomably cruel,” said Brian Klosterboer, ACLU of Texas attorney, said in a statement. “Families should not have to fear being separated because they are providing the best possible health care for their children.”

Spokespersons for Abbott and Paxton’s offices did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday night.

The ruling came as President Joe Biden’s administration announced new steps to protect transgender children and their families in response to Abbott’s order. Biden condemned state laws targeting transgender people in his State of the Union Address Tuesday.

“Like so many anti-transgender attacks proliferating in states across the country, the governor’s actions callously threaten to harm children and their families just to score political points,” the president said in a statement Wednesday night. “These actions are terrifying many families in Texas and beyond. And they must stop.”

Meachum issued the order hours after attorneys for the state and for the parents appeared her via Zoom in a brief hearing.

Paul Castillo, Lambda Legal’s senior counsel, told Meachum that allowing the order to be enforced would cause “irreparable” harm to the teen’s parents and other families.