By Amir Vera, Ashley Killough and Ed Lavandera, CNN
Travis County, Texas, District Court Judge Amy Clark Meachum has granted a temporary restraining order to prevent the state from performing child abuse investigations of families seeking gender-affirming health care for their transgender children. [Previous story, published at 4:41 p.m. ET]
A district court judge in Travis County, Texas, is expected to issue a ruling later Wednesday on whether she’ll grant a temporary restraining order to prevent the state from performing child abuse investigations of families seeking gender-affirming health care for their transgender children.
Judge Amy Clark Meachum of the 201st Civil District Court heard arguments Wednesday morning from a lawyer with Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ civil rights organization, asking for a temporary restraining order as part of its lawsuit with the ACLU claiming the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) had already begun investigating the families of transgender teens.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a public legal opinion last week saying gender-affirming treatments and procedures for transgender children can constitute a form of child abuse. The legal opinion prompted Gov. Greg Abbott to instruct DFPS Commissioner Jaime Masters “to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation of any reported instances of these abusive procedures in the State of Texas.”
Abbott and Paxton were listed as candidates in the Republican primary that took place Tuesday. Abbott won the gubernatorial primary, and Paxton will advance to a runoff.
Lawsuit filed on behalf of DFPS employee
According to the lawsuit filed by the ACLU and Lambda Legal, the plaintiffs are identified as clinical psychologist Dr. Megan Mooney and the “supportive” parents, “Jane and John Doe,” individually and as next friends of “Mary Doe,” a 16-year-old transgender girl who has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is psychological distress that results when a person’s gender identity and sex assigned at birth do not align, according to the American Psychiatric Association.
Jane Doe, an employee of DFPS, asked her employer to clarify how the governor’s order would affect the agency’s policy, according to the lawsuit. She was then placed on leave “because she has a transgender daughter with a medical need for treatment of gender dysphoria,” the suit said. DFPS Child Protective Services visited the plaintiffs’ home after being informed they were under investigation, the suit said.
Jane Doe is on leave pending the results of the DFPS investigation, court documents say. Should the investigation find the parents committed abuse, they would be put on the Child Abuse Registry “and be improperly subject to all of the effects that flow from such placement,” according to the lawsuit. Jane Doe could also face termination and, as a result, lose the family’s health care coverage, the lawsuit said.
The plaintiffs accuse Abbott and Masters of attempting “to legislate by press release” after the Texas legislature “failed to pass legislation criminalizing well-established and medically necessary treatment for adolescents with gender dysphoria.”
CNN has reached out to the governor’s office, Masters and Paxton for comment.
Attorneys argue about the language of Paxton’s legal opinion
The attorney for Lambda Legal, Paul Castillo, argued his clients face immediate and irreparable harm from the investigations. He said he’s aware of at least two other families, in addition to the family mentioned in the lawsuit, who are facing investigations.
Ryan Kercher, an attorney with Paxton’s office, argued the state is not seeking to investigate “every trans youth or every … young person undergoing these kinds of treatments and procedures.” Kercher argued the opinion’s language is intentionally “couched” to say that this kind of health care “could be” or “can be” a form of child abuse, especially if there is a “lack of consent.”
The judge said she’ll issue her decision later Wednesday after fully reviewing the arguments and documentation.
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