Texas governor sued over disgusting plot to investigate parents of trans kids for ‘child abuse’

Texas Governor Greg Abbott during a campaign rally

Top activists have sued Texas governor Greg Abbott in an effort to stop state officials from cruelly investigating the parents and guardians of trans youth for “child abuse”.

On Tuesday (1 March), the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the Republican incumbent after he ordered the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services to crack down on trans youth receiving gender-affirming treatment.

Abbott, bolstered by a non-binding judgement by attorney general Ken Paxton, ordered the agency last week to “conduct prompt and thorough investigations of any reported instances of Texas children being subjected to abusive gender-transitioning procedures”.

Puberty blockers, the safe and well-studied drug that researchers say are “life-saving“, were dubbed “monstrous” by Paxton and described as “abusive” by Abbott.

And such investigations are well underway, the ACLU said in the suit. Among the first investigated by agency officials, the family of a 16-year-old whose mother works for the DFPS, which is responsible for evaluating cases of child abuse.

The governor’s directive, the ACLU argue, disregards the Texas Administrative Procedures Act, the Texas Constitution and the very rights of trans youth and their loved ones.

Joined by Lambda Legal, an LGBT+ civil rights group, the ACLU are hoping to make it clear to the courts that the Republican effort to redefine vital healthcare for trans youth as “child abuse” is way above the scope of power that the governor and attorney general have.

The organisation is representing the family under investigation and a psychologist in a district court in Travis County to block Abbott’s order, which said that educators, healthcare providers, children services professionals and “members of the general public” could face criminal penalties for “failing to report such child abuse” to state authorities

According to the filing, the staffer, who has not been named, works for the agency to review reports of child abuse. Last week, she was placed on administrative leave and investigators sought her child’s medical records on Friday, the filing said.

Investigators told the worker, labelled as Jane Doe, that she has been accused of providing gender-affirming treatment to her child, identified as Mary Doe. Her child refused to turn over any of her records even as investigators visited the family’s home.

“We are terrified for Mary’s health and well-being, and for our family,” wrote the worker in a declaration filed with the suit, in which her husband is identified as John Doe.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

“I feel betrayed by my state and the agency for whom I work.”
“Not providing Mary with the medically necessary health care that she needs,” Jane added, “is not an option for us.”

The family’s licenced psychologist, Megan Mooney, is also named as a plaintiff. If Mooney does not provide her patients with gender-affirming healthcare, per Abbott’s order, she said this would harm her clients and violate her ethical obligations.

Neither Abbott’s nor Paxton’s 13-page legal opinion hold much weight in the eyes of the law. An attorney general’s opinion, which is an interpretation of current law, is advisory and some country and district attorneys have already refused to comply with it.

“Sex-change operations and puberty blockers prescribed by kids is ‘child abuse’ under Texas law,” Paxton tweeted of the judgement.

Both Abbott and Paxton’s attacks on trans youth come against a roiling torrent of at least 160 anti-LGBT+ laws being proposed across the US, with more than a half targeting trans minors.

“Families across Texas are being investigated and care is being halted,” tweeted Chase Strangio, a staff attorney for the ACLU, who added that the group “rushed to court this morning to try to stop this”.

“It is a disaster. They are trying to stop kids from being trans – but you can’t make us not trans you can only make us not alive.”