Texas Civil District Court Judge Amy Clark Meachum issued a temporary restraining order on Wednesday evening to prevent the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services from investigating the plaintiffs in a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas.
The court's decision blocks DFPS from investigating the parents named in the lawsuit over their support of their child's gender-affirming care. Last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott directed DFPS to begin investigating parents who allow their children access to gender-affirming health care prescribed by their doctors, noting that Attorney General Ken Paxton has issued a legal opinion terming gender-affirming care "child abuse."
In her order, Meachum wrote that the plaintiffs would "suffer irreparable injury" unless the investigations are stopped.
Meachum has scheduled another hearing on March 11 to decide if a broader injunction against the investigations is necessary, beyond just the suit's plaintiffs.
"We are relieved that -- at least for now -- the threat of a child abuse investigation is no longer hanging over the heads of the family members in this case," Paul Castillo, Lambda Legal senior counsel, in a statement following Wednesday's ruling. "It is unconscionable for DFPS to still pursue any investigation or inflict more trauma and harm. We look forward to continuing the fight for all Texas families."
"Families should not have to fear being separated because they are providing the best possible health care for their children," Brian Klosterboer of the ACLU of Texas said. "The elected leaders and agencies of this state should not play politics with people's lives. We will do all that's possible to stop these abuses of power and ensure transgender young people can receive medically recommended treatment."
Chase Strangio, deputy director for trans justice with the ACLU LGBTQ & HIV Project, said, "Transgender youth in Texas should be able to access lifesaving, medically necessary care with the support of their families and doctors. Attempts to cut off transgender adolescents from care will not make them any less trans but it will make them less likely to grow up at all."
Abbott's accusations of "child abuse" have drawn outrage from parents of transgender children, activists, businesses, and celebrities. Texas legislators last year considered a bill to this effect, but it failed to pass.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs include an employee of DFPS with a trans child, her husband, and the teen herself, all of whom are remaining anonymous, referred to as Jane, John, and Mary Doe. An investigator has already come to the family's house, according to the suit, and has demanded medical records the family refused to turn over. The Does appear to be one of the first families investigated. The teen's psychologist, Megan Mooney, is also a plaintiff in the case.