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Lawsuit seeks to block Texas from investigating gender-transitioning procedures as child abuse

Family speaks against Texas anti-trans bill
Family speaks out against Texas bill to ban gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors 03:23

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit against Texas Governor Greg Abbott after he signed an order directing the state's Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate gender-transitioning procedures as child abuse. The lawsuit argues the order violates the constitutional rights of transgender children and their families. 

The lawsuit, which also names the DFPS and its commissioner as defendants, was filed on behalf of a family with a transgender child. The child, referred to in the complaint as Mary Doe, identifies as a transgender girl and has been treated for gender dysphoria by a licensed child specialist. 

The suit says that on February 25, one day after Abbott's order went into effect, a Child Protective Services officer visited the family and said they were under investigation. The officer also allegedly requested access to Mary's medical records, which Jane and her husband declined to give them. 

"The CPS investigator disclosed that the sole allegation against Jane Doe and John Doe is that they have a transgender daughter and that their daughter may have been provided with medically necessary gender-affirming health care and is 'currently transitioning from male to female,'" the suit reads. 

The lawsuit was filed five days after Abbott announced his order, which requires health care professionals to report children who have undergone "reassignment surgeries that can cause sterilization, mastectomies, removals of otherwise healthy body parts, and administration of puberty-blocking drugs or supraphysiologic doses of testosterone or estrogen." 

If licensed professionals who interact with children, including teachers, fail to follow this order, they could be subject to criminal penalties. The general public could also be subject to penalties for failing to make reports. State agencies responding to such reports, including DFPS, are required to investigate them as child abuse. 

"To protect Texas children from abuse, DFPS and all other state agencies must follow the law," Abbott said in a letter sent to DFPS when he signed the order. 

The family says Abbott's order has "inflicted ongoing and irreparable harm" to Mary and her family. It also led to her mother, Jane, being placed on leave from her job as a DFPS employee. She could be fired if DFPS finds them guilty of providing Mary with care. 

Demonstrators Attend Women's March To Defend Reproductive Rights
A demonstrator holds a "Protect Trans Women" sign outside the Texas State Capitol during a Women's March in Austin, Texas, U.S., on Saturday, October 2, 2021.  Bloomberg/Getty Images

"We are terrified for Mary's health and wellbeing, and for our family. I feel betrayed by my state and the agency for whom I work," Jane said in a declaration filed Tuesday. "Texas is our home. We are part of a community that has known Mary all her life and been supportive and affirming."

Texas-based child psychologist Dr. Megan A. Mooney is also listed as a plaintiff and claims following Abbott's order would be "violating her professional standards of ethics and inflict serious harm and trauma on her clients."

"Gender-affirming care for the treatment of gender dysphoria is medically necessary care, full stop," Lambda Legal senior counsel Paul Castillo said in a statement. "Criminalizing that care and threatening to tear children from their families is unconscionable and terrifying, and cannot stand."

The plaintiffs are requesting a temporary restraining order and injunction to prevent DFPS from investigating while the order undergoes judgement in court.

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