Texas appeals court upholds order blocking state from investigating parents of trans youth

The Third Texas Court of Appeals Wednesday upheld a trial court’s decision to temporarily block the state from proceeding with an investigation into the parents of a transgender teenager.

In February, Texas Governor Greg Abbott sent a letter to Commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Jamie Masters, instructing her to investigate the parents of children subjected to certain types of gender-affirming care. This care typically aids transgender persons in their transitions and can be either social, hormonal, or surgical. Included in the governor’s letter was a non-binding legal opinion by Attorney General Ken Paxton, which claimed that such care could constitute child abuse when administered to minors.

The parents, represented by the ACLU and Lamba Legal, sued the state after one of them, a state worker, claimed she was put on leave and investigated by the DFPS when she inquired after the governor’s directive. The District Court of Travis County granted a restraining order preventing the state from continuing its investigation until a hearing can be conducted. The state appealed the restraining order. However, the court of appeals denied the state’s request, noting a lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Beyond Texas, several other states have sought to criminalize medical care for transgender youths. In Arkansas, the legislature overcame the governor’s veto to become the first state to ban gender-affirming care. Experts, however, stress that such care is crucial to the health and wellbeing of gender-diverse youth.

The trial court scheduled a hearing for Friday.