Mar 1, 2022 - Politics & Policy

ACLU sues to block Texas from investigating gender-affirming care for trans kids

Greg Abbott, governor of Texas, speaks during a Get Out The Vote campaign event in Beaumont, Texas, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022.
Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a campaign event in Beaumont, Texas, on Feb. 17. Photo: Mark Felix/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights groups are asking a Texas state court to block a directive that would have a state agency investigate parents for child abuse if they seek gender-affirming care for their children.

Why it matters: The lawsuit alleges that Texas' Department of Family and Protective Services has begun investigating parents of transgender children in accordance with Gov. Greg Abbott's order.

Driving the news: The lawsuit, brought by the ACLU and Lambda Legal, argues that Abbott filed last week's directive without proper authority, violating a Texas law and the state constitution, as well as the the constitutional rights of transgender youth and their parents.

  • Abbott is named as a defendant in the suit, along with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, and its commissioner, Jamie Masters.
  • "No family should have to fear being torn apart because they are supporting their trans child," Adri Pérez, policy and advocacy strategist at the ACLU of Texas, said in a statement out Tuesday.
  • Abbott's office did not immediately respond to Axios' requests for comment.

The big picture: The directive is one of the most extreme legal efforts aimed at transgender youth in the country, and comes after 2021 saw a record number of anti-trans bills introduced in state legislatures.

What they're saying: "Families with trans kids in Texas have been under attack for too long. Gender-affirming health care saved my life, and other trans Texans should be able to access medically necessary, lifesaving care," Pérez said.

"They are joining a politically motivated misinformation campaign with no consideration of medical science and seem determined to criminalize parents seeking to care and provide for their kids, and medical professionals abiding by accepted standards of care for transgender youth."
— Lambda Legal Senior Counsel Paul Castillo.

State of play: The lawsuit is filed on behalf of a DFPS employee with a transgender child, her husband and the teen herself.

  • It claims the employee was placed on leave "because she has a transgender daughter" hours after she sought clarification from a superior on how the Abbott directive would affect agency policy.
  • "Such clarification was important for her family as well as to her ability to perform her job at DFPS," the lawsuit says.
  • The employee was told her family would be investigated in accordance with Abbott's order, per the complaint. The family has had an investigator arrive at their home to interview them.

What to watch: A court could rule on the case as soon as Tuesday, according to the ACLU.

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Editor's note: This post has been updated with additional details on the lawsuit.

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