Texas judge blocks child abuse investigations into supportive parents of trans kids

People gather in support of the trans community in Texas

Child abuse investigations into the supportive parents of trans youth have been temporarily banned in Texas. 

A Texas district court judge ordered on Friday (11 March) that the state temporarily halt investigating parents who provide their trans children with gender-affirming care. 

The injunction, issued by judge Amy Clark Meachum, follows a legal challenge by the parents of a 16-year-old trans girl. The trans teen’s mother was put on leave from her job with the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) after governor Greg Abbott ordered state officials to investigate parents of trans youth for “child abuse”

Meachum issued a statewide injunction stopping all such investigations and will remain in effect until a further trial in July. 

The judge said the governor’s actions “violate separation of powers by impermissibly encroaching into the legislative domain”. She added that there is a “substantial likelihood” that the plaintiffs in the case would prevail in getting Abbott’s “unconstitutional” directive overturned. 

The ruling came after a day of testimony about the controversial directive which resulted in DFPS opening nine investigations into families who provide gender-affirming medical care to their children

Randa Mulanax, an investigations supervisor for DFPS, was among the first people to testify at the hearing on Friday. She told the court that abuse investigators had been told to prioritise cases involving parents of trans children after Abbott’s order. 

Mulanax explained the state agency didn’t allow investigators to mark the cases as “priority none”, a status used when staff believe a report doesn’t merit investigation. 

“I’ve been told about that directly,” Mulanax. “You cannot priority-none these cases.”

Mulanax said that she had resigned from DFPS because of the order because she believes it is “unethical”. 

“I have always felt that the department has the children’s best interest at heart,” she said. “I no longer feel that way with this order.”

Megan Mooney, a clinical psychologist and plaintiff in the lawsuit, told the court that Abbott’s order had caused “outright panic” among mental health professionals and families of trans youth in the state.  

“Parents are terrified that [child protective services] is going to come and question their children, or take them away,” Mooney testified. 

“Mental health professionals are scared that we’re either violating our standards and professional codes of conduct, or in violation of the law.”

Sarah Orman, an advocate for children in the foster care system with Court Appointed Special Advocates, read aloud the testimony of an eight-year-old trans girl before the court on Friday. 

According to the testimony, the trans youth hadn’t “really spent much time thinking about how different I am” before the Texas legislative session in 2021. She said her friends “who know I’m trans don’t care” and “love me just the same”. 

But she said this had changed in the last year, and she is now “worried about not being treated the same as others”. 

“And just last week, I found out what a lawyer is and who CPS [Child Protective Services] is,” the girl wrote. “My mom had to explain that so people might come to talk to me and ask me a bunch of questions that might hurt to hear.”

Texas attorney general Ken Paxton confirmed on Twitter that the state will continue to fight the courts in order to conduct “necessary investigations” into the parents of trans youth. 

In his statement on social media, Paxton said his office will “fight to protect our Texas children” and equated providing gender-affirming medical care for trans youth to “abuse”.