Texas appeals order blocking it from investigating parents of trans teen

A person holds a sign up in support of the trans community that reads "HRT saves lives" amid protests in Texas

Texas attorney general Ken Paxton has filed an appeal after a judge blocked the state from conducting a child abuse investigation on the parents of a trans teen.

Paxton appealed the temporary order preventing the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) from investigating a family seeking gender-affirming care for their trans child, the Associated Press reported. 

District judge Amy Clark Meachum granted the temporary order on Wednesday (2 March) and ruled that the family would “suffer irreparable injury” unless the DFPS was “immediately restrained from enforcing” the investigation. 

The temporary order did not stop the state agency from opening investigations into the families of other trans children receiving gender-affirming care.

Paxton’s appeal will postpone a hearing Meachum scheduled for 11 March on whether to issue a broader order blocking other such investigations, according to the Associated Press

The ACLU, the ACLU of Texas and Lambda Legal brought the case against the state on behalf of the family of a 16-year-old trans teen whose mother works for the DFPS. The lawsuit described how the mother had been suspended from her job after Texas governor Greg Abbott ordered the DFPS to investigate the parents of trans youth for “child abuse”.

Chase Strangio, deputy director for trans justice with the ACLU LGBTQ and HIV Project, said Texas state officials are “doubling down on their cruelty” by appealing the temporary order. 

“Our clients and now families across the state are being targeted for the first time for simply continuing to provide the same medically necessary care to their children, as they have for years,” Strangio said.

The DFPS had opened at least three child welfare inquiries following Abbott’s directive to investigate parents who obtain gender-affirming care for their trans kids, Reuters reported. 

However, several Texas district attorneys have said they will not prosecute families for trying to access “life-saving, gender-affirming care” for their trans children.

President Joe Biden recently denounced Abbott and Paxton for carrying out a “cynical and dangerous campaign” targeting trans kids and their families.

In a statement released on Wednesday (2 March), Biden called the anti-trans campaign from Texas’s top lawmakers “government overreach at its worst”. He added that Abbott’s actions have “terrified” families in Texas as well as across the country. 

“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,” Biden said. “These actions are terrifying many families in Texas and beyond. And they must stop.”

Biden said the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had announced several actions to keep trans youth and families in Texas safe. He said these actions would put the “state of Texas on notice that their discriminatory actions put children’s lives at risk”.

HHS secretary Xavier Becerra has urged families to contact the department’s civil rights office if they’re being “targeted by a child welfare because of this discriminatory gubernatorial order”.