Texas Supreme Court Allows Child Abuse Probes of Parents Who Affirm Trans Kids’ Genders to Resume

© AP Photo / Eric GayDemonstrators gather on the steps to the State Capitol to speak against transgender related legislation bills being considered in the Texas Senate and Texas House, Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Austin, Texas.
Demonstrators gather on the steps to the State Capitol to speak against transgender related legislation bills being considered in the Texas Senate and Texas House, Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Austin, Texas. - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.05.2022
The Texas Supreme Court ruled on Friday to allow the state’s Child Protective Services to resume its investigations of the parents of transgender children. However, Governor Greg Abbott can no longer specifically order the agency to pursue the matter.
The Lone Star State’s high court struck down an injunction against the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) that blocked it from following a February 23 order by Abbott to carry out the investigations. Abbott’s order followed a directive several days earlier by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, which stated that the state had begun regarding gender-affirming healthcare for transgender children as “child abuse.”
Under such a designation, trans children could potentially be taken from their supportive families and placed in foster care, where they would be unlikely to continue living as the gender they identify as - a situation trans people refer to as “detransitioning.” Advocates immediately sounded the alarm, calling the move an attempt at genocide and a violation of pediatric standards of care.

"Trans youth, in particular, are being hounded in public and driven to deaths of despair at an alarming rate,” US Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levine told NPR in April. Levine, who is also trans, cited a Trevor Project study finding that 52% of transgender youth in the US contemplated suicide in 2020. “Think about how many of them thought it was better to die than to put up with any more harassment, scapegoating and intentional abuse."

In its 12-page decision, the Texas court blocked the investigation of the family who brought the suit, but found that the order couldn’t block DFPS from further investigations based on Paxton’s determination. However, the court also found that DFPS “was not compelled by law to follow" Abbott's order to focus on investigating trans children’s parents, either.
Advocates said they hoped DFPS would take the off-ramp and stop investigating trans-supportive families while the policy’s legality is under review.

"We hope that, with a clear determination from the Texas Supreme Court that this directive is not legally binding, that everything will go back to business as usual before this directive from Gov. Abbott came out," Currey Cook, senior counsel with Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ civil rights group, told the Austin American-Statesman.

"Are they going to do that? We don't know. We hope so," he said.
Texas is just one of several US states to enact major rollbacks on LGBTQ rights recently, including a ban on trans girls and women playing on women’s sports teams. Despite Paxton’s decision, the state has so far failed to pass a bill banning gender-affirming medical care for trans youth like Alabama, Arizona and Arkansas have.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), nearly 240 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures in 2022 alone, including sports and healthcare bans as well as bans on trans women using women’s bathrooms and on trans people’s ability to change their name and gender markers on certain public documents, with several already having been passed. As a result, some 19 states have introduced plans to provide legal refuge to transgender youth and their families fleeing from states enacting the bans.
A federal bill that would prohibit discrimination on account of sexuality or gender identity nationwide, the Equality Act, has remained stuck in Congress for more than a year. It quickly passed the Democrat-majority House in early 2021, but Senate Democrats have never brought it up for a vote, fearful that they would not be able to break the Republican filibuster that would block it.
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