• Sun. May 22nd, 2022

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Texas judge temporarily blocks investigations into parents of transgender kids

A Texas judge on Friday issued an injunction against enforcement of the governor’s order to investigate gender-affirming care as child abuse, handing opponents of the policy a temporary victory.

District Judge Amy Clark Meachum said that in issuing the Feb. 22 directive without a new state law or rule, Gov. Greg Abbott and officials’ actions “violate separation of powers by impermissibly encroaching into the legislative domain,” The Associated Press reported.

The state Legislature last year failed to pass a bill that would have made it a felony alongside physical and sexual abuse to provide gender-affirming care to minors.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which was among those who challenged the Feb. 22 directive, hailed Friday’s court ruling.

“The judge recognized the governor and DFPS’ actions for what they were — unauthorized and unconstitutional exercises of power that causes severe, immediate, and devastating harms to transgender youth and their families across Texas,” Chase Strangio, deputy director for Trans Justice with the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.

Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who in a non-binding opinion said providing gender-affirming medical care to minors was child abuse, immediately vowed to appeal the injunction.

Paxton has been supportive of a Feb. 22 letter from Abbott to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services directing the agency to investigate children receiving what he called “abusive gender-transitioning procedures.”

More than 60 companies, including Levi Strauss & Co., Apple, Google, Capital One, Dow and Unilever, signed on to a letter opposing Abbott’s directive published in the Dallas Morning News Friday. The full-page ad was titled, “Discrimination is bad for business.”

Meachum last week issued a restraining order preventing DFPS from investigating the family of a 16-year-old transgender child who was told they were under investigation. The lawsuit filed on behalf of the 16-year-old’s family said Abbott “circumvented the will of the legislature” by issuing the directive. It argued that the policy violated the constitutional rights of transgender children, their families and medical professionals.

“Their actions caused terror and anxiety among transgender youth and their families across the Lone Star State and singled out transgender youth and their families,” the lawsuit says.

Friday’s order from Meachum applies statewide.

Others have also sued over Abbott’s order. Megan Mooney, a psychologist who would be required to report transgender cases under the governor’s directive, said in a lawsuit that compliance would violate her professional standards of ethics and harm her clients.

Zenei Triunfo-Cortez, president of National Nurses United, the largest association of registered nurses in the U.S., called Abbott’s directive an attempt to prevent transgender youth, their families and providers from accessing the best care.

“While it would be easy to view these attacks simply as political gamesmanship, and they are that, they are also a very real and grave threat to the health, existence, and futures of transgender people,” Triunfo-Cortez said in a statement.

Abbott issued the directive one week before the Texas primaries, where he faced several challengers on his right. The governor, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, finished with more than 50 percent of the vote and will face Democrat Beto O’Rourke in the fall as he seeks a third term.