Texas judge to hear case on investigations into trans youth care

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(AUSTIN, Texas) -- A Texas judge has blocked state agencies from investigating gender-confirming care for transgender youth as child abuse.

District Judge Amy Clark Meachum issued a temporary injunction Friday after hearing from the parents of a 16-year-old transgender girl who were under investigation by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Meachum also heard from attorneys from the state.

According to the DFPS, there are at least nine similar investigations open as a result of the attorney general's opinion on trans care.

Lamda Legal, which along with the American Civil Liberties Union sued on behalf of the 16-year-old, hailed the ruling Friday.

"Parents who love their transgender children and work with healthcare providers to support and affirm their well-being should be celebrated, rather than investigated as criminals as the state sought to do here," Paul Castillo, senior counsel for Lambda Legal, said in a statement. "We are grateful that the judge issued an order today preventing enforcement of these directives statewide against any family in Texas, and made clear that no one who counts as a mandatory reporter can be forced to turn in families for investigation simply for doing what is right for their child."

"We will continue to fight with trans youth, their parents and their doctors until all trans people are affirmed and have access to the care they need," the ACLU wrote on Twitter.

The opinion written by state Attorney General Ken Paxton last month stated that "there is no doubt that these procedures are 'abuse' under Texas law, and thus must be halted."

He went on: "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."

The next day, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott published a letter, ordering the DFPS to investigate such treatments as child abuse.

"Because the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) is responsible for protecting children from abuse, I hereby direct your agency to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation of any reported instances of these abusive procedures in the State of Texas," Abbott said in the Feb. 22 letter.

Meachum had already blocked the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services from investigating the family of the 16-year-old girl.

Several companies, including Ikea, Google, Apple, Meta, Johnson & Johnson, PayPal, Capital One and Electronic Arts have spoken out against the bill in a full-page ad in The Dallas Morning News.

"The recent attempt to criminalize a parent for helping their transgender child access medically necessary, age-appropriate healthcare in the state of Texas goes against the values of our companies," a signed letter from the companies stated.

Cathryn Oakley, HRC's state legislative director and senior counsel, said that misinformation is at the center of recent anti-LGBTQ efforts, including the Texas directive.

She told ABC News that she believes fear-mongering has painted a picture of trans youth that is "completely not true."

She said that for many young children, transitioning means using a name and pronoun that feels right for them and presenting themselves in a way that feels right for them.

She says that when puberty hits is when medical intervention might begin through puberty blockers, which temporarily pause puberty while children and families assess their gender journey. "No one is performing surgery on kids. There's no amputation happening," she said.

"They're literally putting trans kids lives on the line," she said, referring to mental health conditions that trans youth face in the wake of discrimination.

"It's incumbent on us to really educate folks about what it means to be a trans kid because I think the only reason people are buying into that kind of rhetoric is because even people who are fair-minded have questions about what it means to be a trans youth," she said.

Friday, March 11, 2022 at 12:18PM by Kiara Alfonseca, ABC News Permalink