ACLU files suit over Texas investigation into parents of trans child
Civil rights organizations on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and the Department of Family and Protective Services in order to halt state investigations into parents with transgender children.
After Abbott directed the DFPS to treat gender-affirming healthcare for transgender minors as child abuse and pursue parents who are supportive of their children’s use of puberty-blockers or other gender-affirming care, at least one family is already under investigation, according toMelissa Gira Grant of The New Republic.
The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Texas, and Lambda Legal are suing the state, representing a family and a psychologist who want the directive blocked.
“No family should have to fear being torn apart because they are supporting their trans child,” said Adri Pérez, policy and advocacy strategist at the ACLU of Texas. “A week before an election, Gov. Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a partisan political attack that isn’t rooted in the needs of families, the evidence from doctors, and the expertise from child welfare professionals.”
“Families with trans kids in Texas have been under attack for too long,” Perez added. “Gender-affirming healthcare saved my life, and other trans Texans should be able to access medically necessary, lifesaving care.”
As Common Dreams reported last week, based on a legal opinion released by Paxton, Abbott has warned healthcare providers, educators, other licensed professionals, and even members of the general public to report gender-affirming care to the state.
At least two county attorneys have said they won’t prosecute any families referred by DFPS, but a woman who works for the department is now being investigated after disclosing to her supervisor that her daughter is receiving medically necessary gender-affirming care.
As Grant reported:
Jane Doe, the mother of a trans child, Mary, is herself a DFPS employee, according to the filing. On February 23, after the Paxton and Abbott directives, she sought guidance from her supervisor about how the changes would impact her work. “Such clarification was important for her family as well as to her ability to perform her job at DFPS,” the filing states. “That same day, and just mere hours later, Jane Doe was placed on leave from her employment because she has a transgender daughter with a medical need for treatment of gender dysphoria.”
The Does are also now being investigated by DFPS. Two days after Jane was sent home on leave, a DFPS Child Protective Services investigator came to the Doe home. “The CPS investigator disclosed that the sole allegation against Jane Doe and John Doe is that they have a transgender daughter and that their daughter may have been provided with medically necessary gender-affirming health care and is ‘currently transitioning from male to female.'”
“While I was working on this story this morning,” Grant tweeted Tuesday, “CPS showed up at the door of one mom in Texas I am in touch with. This is all going down very fast.”
With Abbott and Paxton both facing elections this year amid a nationwide right-wing campaign attacking the rights of transgender children—despite evidence that the general public has little appetite for placing restrictions on them—critics have accused the two Republicans of blatantly using vulnerable young people in Texas as political pawns.
“In Texas and many other states, trans and non-binary people are under attack by legislators and political leaders, many of whom are exploiting them as political fodder for their election campaigns,” said Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer, president of the United Church of Christ, and Andrew Lang, executive director of the church’s Open and Affirming Coalition, on Tuesday. “We call on Gov. Abbott to rescind this onerous, harmful directive, and we call on state legislatures in other states to overturn any anti-transgender legislation that may currently exist in their state and defeat any pending anti-transgender legislation.”
The national non-profit advocacy group Children’s Rights applauded the plaintiffs in the lawsuit “for challenging Gov. Abbott’s blatantly political directive.”
“If Gov. Abbott and other Texas leaders really cared about children, they would focus their efforts on better serving the children in Texas’s badly broken child welfare system, not on cruelly targeting transgender children and their families for seeking affirming healthcare,” said Samantha Bartosz, deputy litigation director at the group.
Studies have shown that transgender and non-binary children whose parents are unsupportive are far more likely than children with supportive families to attempt suicide.
“They are trying to stop kids from being trans—but you can’t make us not trans, you can only make us not alive,” said Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice at the ACLU.
In Austin, grassroots organizers demonstrated on the steps of the Texas State Capitol, chanting, “Stop the hate!”
“We cannot allow politicians to use trans youth to score political points,” saidStrangio. “We must speak up when lies and misinformation about trans youth are being spread. We must show up for trans youth today and every day.”