Judge blocks Texas from investigating parents of transgender teen

Judge blocks Texas from investigating parents of transgender teen

Isabel Webb Carey
Isabel Webb Carey
|
March 3, 2022

A Texas judge Wednesday blocked the state from investigating the parents of a transgender teenager over gender-confirmation medical care, citing the “irreparable injury” they would likely suffer. 

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 Gov. Greg Abbott’s order last week that officials look into reports of such treatments as abuse. 

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.”

Meachum’s ruling stops short of preventing the state from looking into other reports about children receiving similar care. However, she is set to consider issuing a  statewide injunction blocking such investigations into all parents of trans children on March 11.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra has further promised to look into tools that would shield transgender Texans from the state’s attempts to hinder access to gender-affirming care.

Lambda Legal filed the suit alongside the American Civil Liberties Union. Attorney Paul Castillo told Meachum that allowing the order to be enforced would cause “irreparable” harm to the teen’s parents and other families.

“For Governor Abbott and Attorney General Paxton, it seems the cruelty is the point,” said Paul Castillo. “They are joining a politically motivated misinformation campaign with no consideration of medical science and seem determined to criminalize parents seeking to care and provide for their kids, and medical professionals abiding by accepted standards of care for transgender youth. Gender-affirming care for the treatment of gender dysphoria is medically necessary care, full stop. Criminalizing that care and threatening to tear children from their families is unconscionable and terrifying, and cannot stand.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of an employee of DFPS with a transgender child, her husband, and the teen herself. According to the complaint, this family has had an investigator already arrive at their house. The family has filed the lawsuit anonymously. Dr. Megan Mooney, a licensed psychologist who is considered a mandatory reporter under Texas law and cannot comply with the governor’s directive without harming her clients and violating her ethical obligations, is also a plaintiff in the suit.

Ryan Kercher, an attorney with Paxton’s office, told Meachum that the governor’s order and the earlier opinion don’t require the state to investigate every transgender child receiving gender-confirmation care.

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Isabel Webb Carey

Isabel Webb Carey

Isabel Webb Carey attends the University of Texas at Austin in the Plan II Honors Program with a certificate in Core Texts and Ideas. Her interests include education, local governance, sustainability, and equity. Isabel enjoys dancing, hiking, and live music. She is also a staff writer for the Texas Orator. Email her at isabelwebbcarey@gmail.com
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