May 13, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Texas allowed to resume investigations of families with trans kids

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

A Texas Supreme Court ruled Friday that the state could resume investigating parents for child abuse if they seek gender-affirming care for transgender kids.

Why it matters: The decision reverses an injunction by a Texas appeals court in March that temporarily blocked such investigations.

The big picture: The court's ruling leaves the injunction in place for the family that originally filed the case's initial lawsuit as the case goes to trial.

  • The ruling also stated that the appeals court had "abused its discretion" by issuing a statewide order.
  • The probes began after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) ordered state agencies in February to investigate gender-affirming care for transgender kids as child abuse.
  • The court called both Abbott's order and the state attorney general's opinion "nonbinding," meaning that state agencies are not required to report and investigate families who seek gender-affirming care but are allowed to do so.

What they're saying: "Though the court limited its order to the [plaintiffs], it reaffirmed that Texas law has not changed and no mandatory reporter or [Department of Family and Protective Services] employee is required to take any action based on the governor’s directive and attorney general opinion," said Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union, who represented the family in the case.

  • "By upholding the injunction, the court left in place the lower court’s decision that investigations based solely on the provision of medically necessary health care cause irreparable harm," they added.

State of play: 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.

  • Over two-thirds of LGBTQ youth said recent debates over state laws that target transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health, according to a poll by the Trevor Project, which provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth.

What we're watching: Lambda Legal and the ACLU said that the lawsuit will continue and it would be "unconscionable" for state agencies to continue these investigations in the meantime.

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

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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