Texas loses appeal over ‘child abuse’ investigation into loving parents of trans teen

A person holds a sign that reads "Trans rights are human rights"

A Texas court has rejected efforts by the state to continue investigating “child abuse” claims against parents of a trans treen. 

The appeals court on Wednesday (9 March) rejected an effort by Texas attorney general Ken Paxton to investigate a supportive family seeking gender-affirming care for their 16-year-old daughter.

The ruling will allow a lower court to hold a hearing on the case on Friday (11 March) to halt investigations by the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) into parents of other trans children. 

The family’s lawsuit is supported by the ACLU, the ACLU of Texas and Lambda Legal. 

Brian Klosterboer, an attorney with the ACLU of Texas, described the appeal as “groundless” and called on the DFPS and courts to “stop this egregious government overreach” by the state’s top lawmakers. 

“This crisis in Texas is continuing every day, with state leaders weaponizing the Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate families, invade their privacy and trample on the rights of parents simply for providing the best possible health care for their kids under the guidance of doctors and medical best practices,” Klosterboer added.

The family brought the lawsuit after the mother, who works for the DFPS, was placed on administrative leave after Republican governor Greg Abbott ordered the state office to investigate the parents of trans youth for “child abuse”

According to the complaint, the mother, referred to as Jane Doe, has been “unable to sleep” over worries about the future and how “they can keep their family intact and their daughter safe and healthy”. 

“The Doe family is living in constant fear about what will happen to them due to the actions by DFPS, the Governor and the Attorney General,” the complaint added. 

Mary, the pseudonym used for the trans teen, has been “traumatised” by the idea that “she could be separated from her parents and could lose access to the medical treatment that has enabled her to thrive”. 

“The stress has taken a noticeable toll on her, and her parents have observed how their daughter who is typically joyful and happy, is now moodier, stressed and overwhelmed,” the complaint read.   

Abbott and Paxton have drawn international scorn for their attempts to equate life-saving gender-affirming treatments to “child abuse”. 

President Joe Biden said Abbott’s actions “callously threaten to harm children and their families” in an effort to “score political points”. He added that Abbott’s anti-trans campaign is “government overreach at its worst”.

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

The Texas Children’s Hospital, the largest paediatric hospital in the state, pulled all hormone therapies for trans youth amid threats from the state’s top lawmakers to bring legal action against businesses involved in providing such services. 

A hospital spokesperson said the step was taken to “safeguard our healthcare professionals” and families from “potential criminal legal ramifications”. 

A judge will on Friday (11 March) consider a request by the ACLU for a statewide injunction on investigations by DFPS.

At least nine other families are known to be under investigation at the time of writing.