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HomeNewsJudge blocks Texas from probing transgender youth treatment as child abuse

Judge blocks Texas from probing transgender youth treatment as child abuse

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A Texas judge sided with the family of a transgender teen on Wednesday in a case challenging Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive for the state to investigate parents of transgender youths receiving transition care for alleged child abuse.

Judge Amy Clark Meachum of the 201st District Court, a Democrat, issued a temporary restraining order protecting the family in the legal battle from a state investigation. A hearing is scheduled later this month to consider if a statewide injunction is warranted.

In the lawsuit filed this week by the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal, a pro-LGBT legal group, the parents of a 16-year-old transgender girl — all anonymous — said the order runs afoul of state law because the governor overstepped his authority issuing the directive. The complaint notes that the state legislature had failed to pass such legislation.

Mr. Abbott issued the directive after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton published an opinion last month saying transition care for adolescents could constitute child abuse. The reasoning was that it could lead to sterilization, according to the court filing.

“Parents and families across the state of Texas are fearful that if they follow the recommendations of their medical providers to treat their adolescent children’s suffering from gender dysphoria, they could face investigation, criminal prosecution and the removal of their children from their custody. As a result, parents are scared to remain in Texas,” the lawsuit reads.

Under the directive, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is to receive complaints about families with transgender children suspected of receiving transition care.

Houston-based psychologist Megan Mooney, who provides treatment for gender dysphoria, is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

“Asking licensed medical and mental health professionals to ‘turn in’ parents who are merely trying to give their children needed and evidence-based care would violate patient confidentiality as well as professional ethics,” the complaint reads.

A spokesperson from the Texas attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

During a brief hearing Wednesday, Ryan Kercher, representing Texas officials, told the judge the directive isn’t an official rule and the court didn’t have the authority to issue a statewide injunction in the matter.

“There is a public debate and discussion about a variety of trans issues,” he told the judge.

Paul Castillo, representing the plaintiffs, said the court did have authority to act — and it should.

“Medical providers have stopped care in terms of prescriptions to transgender kids because of the threat of continuing to provide the harm is so grave,” he said.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has received three reports since the governor issued his order, according to The Associated Press.

Texas’ move comes after Arkansas banned gender transition treatments for minors last year. A judge blocked that law from taking effect, but the state is appealing the ruling.

President Biden said his administration will do everything it can to keep Texans free from discrimination. 

“In the United States of America, we respect the rights and dignity of all families. Transgender children bring fulfillment to their parents, joy to their friends, and are made in the image of God. Affirming a transgender child’s identity is one of the best things a parent, teacher, or doctor can do to help keep children from harm,” the president said.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra instructed anyone who is being targeted to report it to the feds.

“Any individual or family in Texas who is being targeted by a child welfare investigation because of this discriminatory gubernatorial order is encouraged to contact our Office for Civil Rights to report their experience,” Mr. Becerra said. 

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