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Texas Judge Blocks State-Run Investigation Into Family With Transgender Teen

The judge’s order doesn’t halt all such investigations, but a hearing on doing so is set to take place next week.

The Texas State Capitol is seen on the first day of the 87th Legislature's third special session on September 20, 2021, in Austin, Texas.

A judge in Texas has blocked an investigation into a family with a transgender teen in the state, stating that the inquiry violated their constitutional rights.

Gov. Greg Abbott (R), working off a legal opinion from Republican state Attorney General Ken Paxton, recently ordered state agencies to conduct child abuse investigations into families if there is reason to believe that their transgender or nonbinary children are receiving gender-affirming medical care. The Department of Family and Protective Services responded to that order by opening an investigation into one of its own employees, who has a transgender teenager.

That inquiry was opened based on the mere possibility that the family “may” have provided the child with gender-affirming health care, the family noted in its lawsuit against the state.

In her order issued on Wednesday, state District Judge Amy Clark Meachum blocked Abbott’s decree, but limited her decision to the investigation of the single family suing the governor. Her order does not block the state from opening similar investigations at this time — however, Meachum also announced that she would hold a hearing next week on whether Abbott’s entire order should be blocked as well.

In her decision, Meachum wrote that the parents and their child who were targeted as a result of Abbott’s order “face the imminent and ongoing deprivation of their constitutional rights, the potential loss of necessary medical care, and the stigma attached to being the subject of an unfounded child abuse investigation.”

In addition to the potential for Meachum to block the enforcement of Abbott’s order, the federal government may step in to protect the civil rights of transgender youth in the state. On Wednesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra released guidance from his department saying that “refusing to provide treatment to an individual based on their gender identity is prohibited discrimination.”

“Similarly, federally-funded covered entities restricting an individual’s ability to receive medically necessary care, including gender-affirming care, from their health care provider solely on the basis of their sex assigned at birth or gender identity likely violates” federal law, Becerra added.

Experts have definitively concluded that providing transgender and nonbinary children with gender-affirming care doesn’t constitute abuse of any kind – in fact, such treatment is beneficial and can even be life-saving. Transgender and gender diverse children “who have access to gender-affirming medical care experience improvements in mental health and often show mental health comparable to their cisgender peers,” a recent analysis of multiple studies noted.

A number of health organizations — including the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Physicians, the American Osteopathic Association, and the American Psychiatric Association — have signed a joint statement condemning Abbott’s and other Republican lawmakers’ attempts to restrict care for transgender children.

“All patients must have access to evidence-based health care, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation,” that statement read. “Our organizations will not stand for any efforts that discriminate against transgender and gender-diverse individuals and cause harm to their health and well-being. We will continue to advocate to ensure their health needs are met and supported, not put in danger.”