Texas court allows state child abuse inquiries into the families of trans kids to continue

Texas court allows state child abuse inquiries into the families of trans kids to continue

Isabel Webb Carey
Isabel Webb Carey
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May 17, 2022

The Texas Supreme Court on Friday allowed the state child welfare agency to resume investigating parents and doctors who provide gender-affirming care for trans youth, though it raised questions about the state’s investigations in the first place.

The ruling overturns a lower court’s injunction from March 11, which barred state officials from pursuing Gov. Greg Abbott‘s February directive that instructed the Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate “any reported instances” of a range of treatments and procedures, including the administration of hormones and puberty-blocking drugs.

The impetus for the directive had come from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s nonbinding legal opinion issued in February that equated certain medical treatments and procedures for transgender teens with child abuse. Following that opinion, Abbott sent a letter to DFPS directing the agency to investigate parents who provided gender-affirming care to their transgender children.

The parents of a transgender teen had sued to stop the investigations, and in early March, District Judge Amy Clark Meachum issued a temporary order halting an investigation into the parents of the 16-year-old girl. Meachum later issued another order at the statewide level, temporarily blocking all such investigations stemming from Abbott’s directive. Meachum had stated that there was a  “substantial likelihood” that the plaintiffs would win their case, and called Abbott’s directive to investigate the families “beyond the scope of his authority and unconstitutional.”

Though Friday’s decision overturned the injunction on procedural grounds, the high court also denied the state’s request to dismiss the family’s lawsuit outright. The court affirmed in Friday’s ruling that neither Attorney General Ken Paxton nor Gov. Greg Abbott had any grounds to direct the agency’s actions.

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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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