Texas court halts investigation into family’s gender-affirming care amid ACLU lawsuit

The lawsuit calls the governor's order 'lawless and dangerous.'

March 03, 2022, 12:15 PM

A Texas judge has blocked the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services from investigating the family behind the American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against the DFPS and Governor Greg Abbott. The lawsuit hopes to end the governor's directive to investigate parents that provide gender-affirming care to transgender children, calling such care "child abuse."

The temporary restraining order is limited to this single family, who were being investigated by the DFPS. A hearing is scheduled for March 11 to decide whether to block the directive statewide.

In a Feb. 22 letter, Abbott ordered the DFPS to investigate gender-affirming care among youths in the state following an official declaration from state Attorney General Ken Paxton who also called it "child abuse."

The DFPS promptly announced that it would comply with Paxton and Abbott's directive. The department told ABC affiliate KVUE there were no investigations into such alleged "child abuse" before Abbott's directive.

DFPS Commissioner Jaime Masters is also listed as a defendant in the complaint.

Representatives for Masters and Abbott did not immediately respond to ABC News' requests for comment. The DFPS declined to comment.

The lawsuit, led by the ACLU and Lambda Legal, calls the move "lawless and dangerous."

PHOTO: A protester holds up a sign as a a rally for trans rights passes in front of the Texas Capitol in Austin, Texas, on Feb. 27, 2022.
A protester holds up a sign as a a rally for trans rights passes in front of the Texas Capitol in Austin, Texas, on Feb. 27, 2022.
Aaron E. Martinez/American-Statesman via USA Today Network

According to the complaint, Jane Doe, a DFPS employee, allegedly "was placed on leave from her employment because she has a transgender daughter with a medical need for treatment of gender dysphoria."

Following the issuance of the gender-affirming care directive, Jane Doe had allegedly asked for clarification from her supervisor about how the Abbott letter would affect DFPS policy, the complaint read.

Jane and John Doe are the parents of 16-year-old Mary Doe, who is transgender.

According to the ACLU's complaint, "some doctors and other providers have discontinued prescribing medically necessary treatment for gender dysphoria to transgender youth" as a result of Abbott's directive.

"The actions taken by Defendants have already caused severe and irreparable harm to families across the state of Texas, including the Doe family, and have put medical and mental health providers in the impossible position of either following their legal and ethical professional responsibilities or facing criminal prosecution or civil and professional repercussions under Texas law," the complaint reads.

PHOTO: Transgender youth and their loved ones rally at the State Capitol in Austin, Texas, on March 1, 2022, decrying Governor Greg Abbott's directive to state health agencies to investigate gender-affirming care to transgender youth as child abuse.
Transgender youth and their loved ones rally at the State Capitol in Austin, Texas, on March 1, 2022, decrying Governor Greg Abbott's directive to state health agencies to investigate gender-affirming care to transgender youth as child abuse.
Bob Daemmrich/ZUMA Press Wire

The Texas legislature has previously tried to limit gender-affirming care and legally declare it "child abuse" but it has failed to pass any of its bills into law.

“There is no doubt that these procedures are ‘abuse’ under Texas law, and thus must be halted,” Paxton said previously in a statement.

He added, “The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) has a responsibility to act accordingly. I’ll do everything I can to protect against those who take advantage of and harm young Texans.”

Organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Association, Texas Pediatric Society, National Association of Social Workers and more have denounced the governor's directive.

"This harmful directive leaves families seeking gender-affirming care in Texas with nowhere to turn," Moira Szilagyi, the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said in a statement following Abbott's announcement. "Pediatricians could be investigated for child abuse by simply providing evidence-based, medically necessary services. Gender affirming care is not abuse. Politics has no place in the exam room. All children deserve access to the care they need."

Five Texas district attorneys also pushed back on Abbott's directive in a signed letter, saying they "will not irrationally and unjustifiably interfere with medical decisions made between children, their parents, and their medical physicians."

The White House has also slammed Abbott's decisions.

"The Texas Attorney General’s attack on loving parents who seek medical care for their transgender children is dangerous to the health of kids in Texas and part of much larger trend of conservative officials cynically attacking LGBTQI+ youth to score political points," a White House spokesperson told ABC News last week.

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