Texas Appeals Court Blocks State From Investigating Families With Transgender Children for Child Abuse

By Mimi Nguyen Ly
Mimi Nguyen Ly
Mimi Nguyen Ly
Mimi Nguyen Ly is a journalist based in Australia.
March 21, 2022 Updated: March 22, 2022

A Texas appeals court reinstated an order that will block the state from investigating parents for child abuse if they facilitate gender-affirming procedures for their transgender children.

The Texas Third Court of Appeals on March 21 granted an emergency motion to reinstate the temporary injunction, which it said is “necessary to maintain the status quo and preserve the rights of all parties.”

The court did not rule on the merits of the case.

Lawyers with American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Lambda Legal had filed the emergency motion to keep in place a ruling by a lower court. District Court Judge Amy Clark Meachum, a Democrat, issued the temporary injunction on March 11, temporarily blocking the investigations.

The state immediately filed an appeal later that day

Upon filing the appeal, Paxton wrote that Meachum’s order “is frozen” and the investigations “proceed as they should.” He also said he would be ready for the fight to continue up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

But lawyers for the ACLU and Lambda Legal said Paxton’s move constituted a violation of the injunction order and asked the appellate court to rule on the matter.

The ruling on March 21 means that investigations of parents of transgender children cannot take place before the case goes to trial in July.

Epoch Times Photo
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott during a border security summit in Del Rio, Texas, on June 10, 2021. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

The legal battle began after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott issued a directive in February ordering the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to start investigating parents of children who undergo “sex change procedures.”

The decision was based on a legal opinion written by Ken Paxton, Texas’s attorney general. In the opinion (pdf) Paxton said that “non-medically necessary, gender-based procedures or treatments on a minor” could constitute child abuse under the state’s Family Code.

Abbott wrote in his February directive (pdf) to Jaime Masters, the commissioner of the DFPS, that Paxton’s legal opinion “makes clear, it is already against the law to subject Texas children to a wide variety of elective procedures for gender transitioning, including reassignment surgeries that can cause sterilization, mastectomies, removals of otherwise healthy body parts, and administration of puberty-blocking drugs or supraphysiologic doses of testosterone or estrogen.”

The ACLU and Lambda Legal on March 1 sued the state on behalf of the family of a 16-year-old transgender child who had a child welfare investigator arrive at their home due to the Abbott directive.

The child, who was designated as “male” on the birth certificate, has taken puberty-delaying medications and hormone therapy prescribed by doctors. “Mary was worried about having to undergo a puberty that would result in permanent physical characteristics not in alignment with her female gender,” according to the lawsuit (pdf).

The child’s mother, an employee of the DFPS, was put on paid administrative leave after asking her supervisor how Abbott’s directive would affect DFPS policy. “Such clarification was important for her family as well as to her ability to perform her job at DFPS,” stated the lawsuit.

“Neither the non-binding Paxton Opinion nor the Abbott Letter—both of which conflict with well-established medical standards of care—are a legitimate basis for the rule,” lawyers argued in the suit.

The Epoch Times has contacted Abbott’s office for comment.

Mimi Nguyen Ly is a journalist based in Australia.