Updated Mar 12, 2022 - Health

Texas judge temporarily halts investigations of families with trans kids

Photo of Greg Abbott speaking from a podium to a crowd of people
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during the Houston Region Business Coalition's monthly meeting on Oct. 27, 2021 in Houston, Texas. Photo: Brandon Bell via Getty Images

Travis County District Judge Amy Clark Meachum on Friday issued a statewide temporary injunction against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's (R) directive, which ordered the state to investigate parents for child abuse if they seek gender-affirming care for their children.

Driving the news: A supervisor for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services testified on Friday that investigators were required to prioritize cases involving parents of transgender children but were prohibited from closing them if they determined that the case likely did not involve child abuse, according to media reports of video footage from a state district court hearing.

What she's saying: The agency's approach to reports of parents seeking gender-affirming care for their children was different from other cases, the supervisor, Randa Mulanax, testified on Friday before Meachum, the Texas Tribune reports.

  • Investigators were told to look into such cases without exception and not to document anything about the cases in writing, she testified.
  • They could not give these cases "priority none status," which occurs when the agency concludes that a report is unlikely to reflect a case of child abuse, according to Mulanax, who said she says she will resign from the agency.
  • "I’ve always felt that, at the end of the day, the department had children’s best interest at heart," she added. "I no longer feel that way."
  • Axios reached out to the governor’s office for comment.

The latest: The ACLU, which represented a trans teenager's family in the lawsuit, applauded the decision but said "we cannot stop fighting."

  • "Today's witnesses ... gave courageous and emotional testimony about the fear and harm caused by these unlawful actions," Brian Klosterboer, an ACLU of Texas attorney, said in a statement. "All trans young people deserve to live freely as their true selves."
  • Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Friday evening that he will appeal the court's decision.

The big picture: Medical organizations, including the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association, have condemned the directive to restrict gender-affirming medical care, saying it could have a detrimental effect on the mental health of transgender youth, Axios' Oriana Gonzalez and Erin Doherty write.

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics has also denounced the directive, saying it interferes with the doctor-patient relationship.
  • A recent study found a significant decrease in rates of depression and suicidal thoughts among trans or nonbinary teens within a year of receiving puberty blockers or gender-affirming hormones.

Go deeper: "Terrifying": Understanding Abbott's order on trans kids in Texas

Editor's note: This story has been updated with the judge's ruling.

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