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AG Paxton appeals Travis County judge's temporary order blocking Texas from investigating trans teen's family for 'child abuse'

The hearing set for March 11 by Judge Meachum will be put on hold until an appeals court rules on Paxton's filing.

AUSTIN, Texas — A judge in Austin has ruled the State of Texas may not, for now, enforce actions targeting the parents of a transgender teen.

Travis County District County Judge Amy Clark Meachum granted the temporary restraining order on Wednesday. She set a hearing on the matter for March 11 to determine the validity of a directive by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. 

It comes as the State of Texas is investigating a family for child abuse after the parents obtained gender-affirming care for their 16-year-old transgender daughter. The child’s mother is a Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) employee and has been placed on leave.

Judge Meachum’s order will also block DFPS from taking adverse employment action against the teen’s mother. Just after Judge Meachum granted the restraining order, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an appeal. The appeal can be read in full here. The hearing set for March 11 will be put on hold until an appeals court rules on Paxton's filing.

The teen’s case came to light after the ACLU and Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit on the family’s behalf to block such investigations, naming both Gov. Abbott and the DFPS as defendants.

The investigation into the teen’s parents follows Gov. Abbott’s directive that the DFPS investigate parents seeking gender-affirming care for their transgender children.

Last month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, in his official capacity as the chief legal officer for the State, said certain child sex modification procedures should be treated as abuse. The opinion claims Texas law counts puberty blockers and other medical procedures to change a child’s sex as “abuse” under section 261.001 of the Texas Family Code.

A day after Paxton's announcement, Gov. Abbott issued a letter to the DFPS directing the agency to conduct "prompt and thorough" investigations of any reported instances of Texas children being "subjected to abusive gender-transitioning procedures."

The ACLU, Lambda Legal and other organizations held a rally on Wednesday in support of transgender children’s rights.

“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,” said Paul Castillo, Lambda Legal senior counsel. “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.”

Following the hearing, Judge Meachum could grant a wider injunction, barring the DFPS from enforcing Gov. Abbott’s directive.

Dr. Bhavik Kumar, a board member with Physicians for Reproductive Health and staff physician at Planned Parenthood Center for Choice in Houston, said some parents have considered moving out of the state. 

"My colleagues have gotten calls from parents about what they should do to protect their children," said Kumar. "They consider moving out of state. They've thought about what they're going to do if they can't access health care here in Texas."

Kumar said gender reassignment surgeries are rarely performed on children and hormones and puberty blockers don't have long-term health consequences. 

"This administration is known for disinformation," said Kumar. "I think they are trying to feed on people's fears." 

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