Texas court blocks ‘child abuse’ investigations into two families of trans kids

A person holds up a sign that reads 'Affirmation ≠ abuse' in protest of Texas officials investigating the families of trans youth for 'child abuse'

A Texas judge has ordered the state to stop ‘child abuse’ investigations into two families who are helping their trans kids access gender-affirming care. 

Travis County judge Amy Clark Meachum ruled Friday (8 July) that the investigations are “gross invasions of privacy in the home and school” that intruded in parents’ ability to make decisions and disrupted “medically necessary care for the parents’ adolescent children”.

The temporary injunction will prevent the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) from implementing the agency’s rule that would expand the definition of child abuse to “presumptively treat the provision of gender-affirming medical care” – including puberty blockers and hormone therapy – as “necessitating an investigation”. 

Due to the injunction, the Texas DFPS is barred from investigating two families — identified in court documents under the pseudonyms Roe and Voe. 

The court is still considering the request for additional injunctive relief to protect the other families of trans youth including the Briggle family and members of Texas PFLAG.

The families’ lawsuit was filed by Lambda Legal, the ACLU Jon L Stryker and Slobodan Randjelović LGBTQ & HIV Project, the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, the ACLU of Texas and the law firm of Baker Botts LLP.

The legal organisations said in a joint statement that they are “gratified” the court “reiterated that the DFPS rule is unlawful and changed the status quo for Texas transgender youth and their families”.

The statement continued: “The court recognised yet again that being subjected to an unlawful and unwarranted investigation causes irreparable harm for these families who are doing nothing more than caring for and affirming their children and seeking the best course of care for them in consultation with their medical providers. 

“We are confident that the court will continue to recognise those harms as it considers the injunction we have requested for PFLAG families, including the Briggles.”

A crowd of people gather in support of the trans community in Texas. One person holds up a sign reading 'Protect trans youth' while another has a sign reading 'Trans rights are human rights'

Legal organisations denounced Texas state officials for subjecting families of trans youth to “unlawful and unwarranted” investigations. (YouTube/FOX 7 Austin)

The organisations noted Texas filed an appeal against the ruling and sought “permission to continue their persecution” of trans youth and their families within an hour of the court’s ruling. 

Meachum wrote in the ruling that “there is a substantial likelihood that Plaintiffs will prevail after a trial on merits”. She also argued trans youth and their families would “suffer probable, imminent, and irreparable injury” should the investigations continue. 

In February, Texas governor Greg Abbott directed DFPS to investigate families and medical professionals that help trans youth access gender-affirming medical care

The effort to erase trans kids in Texas led to a fierce legal battle that made it to the state’s Supreme Court. 

The Texas Supreme Court ruled in May that the state must stop an investigation into the family of one trans teen who brought their case to the courts, but the ruling also lifted the statewide injunction stopping such investigations into other parents of trans youth. 

However, the ruling declared that Abbott doesn’t have the authority or power to order the state’s child to carry out these investigations. 

Amber Briggle, a Texas mum of a trans son and who is part of the ongoing legal battle, previously told PinkNews that felt “so bruised” from fighting anti-trans bills and measures that have traumatised her whole family. 

She described driving several hours to testify against anti-trans legislation and feeling “emotionally exhausted” as a result of having to fight for her family’s rights. 

“I’m gonna work my a** off every single second to do as much good as I possibly can, and it’s exhausting and terrifying,” Briggle said. 

The attacks against trans youth have gotten so bad that it forced Kai Shappley – a trans girl who was named a finalist for TIME‘s “Kid of the Year” award for her advocacy – and her family to flee Texas. 

Kai Shappley holding a sign

Kai Shappley. (Facebook)

Shappley wrote on Twitter that her mum sold the family’s home and “everything that doesn’t fit” in their cause because the state she was “born in is not safe for trans kids”. 

Her mum Kimberly wrote on a GoFundMe page that she decided Texas wasn’t safe for her kids and was trying to find a new home in a “safe state”. Kimberly added it was “not just trans kids Texas is harming by scapegoating them for political purposes”.

“My youngest son, 9 years old Kaleb, who is cisgender regularly expresses fear that he would be taken from me by state agents and fear for the irreparable damage he knows would be caused to his sister were she forced to de-transition,” Kimberly wrote. 

She continued: “When states target trans kids, their parents, and their doctors, there is collateral damage – so I’m looking for a new State where my daughter will be allowed to be a kid, and my youngest son will no longer have to worry about being taken from me or his sister.”