By Sharon Bernstein
(Reuters) – Texas has appealed a judge’s order that blocked the state from investigating the parents of a 16-year-old transgender girl for providing her with gender-affirming medical treatments that Governor Greg Abbott says are “child abuse.”
The appeal notice, first posted online by the Austin American-Statesman newspaper, seeks to overturn a temporary restraining order issued on Wednesday by Travis County District Court Judge Amy Clark Meachum to halt the state’s probe of the family.
Abbott last month directed the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to conduct such investigations, citing a non-binding legal opinion by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton that concluded some medical treatments used to help transgender youth transition away from their birth gender could constitute child abuse.
President Joe Biden on Wednesday denounced Abbott’s directive as a “cynical and dangerous campaign targeting transgender children and their parents.”
Neither Paxton nor Abbott immediately responded to requests for comment from Reuters on Thursday. Paxton asked for an accelerated appeal from the state’s Third Court of Appeals.
The adolescent involved was designated male at birth but identifies as female, and has taken puberty-delaying medications and hormone therapy as part of gender-affirming transitional medical care, according to the lawsuit brought by her parents.
The teen’s mother is an employee of the DFPS, the same agency that has been ordered to investigate her. She was placed on leave after inquiring what the governor’s directive would mean for her family, according to the lawsuit, filed on the parents’ behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Lambda Legal.
Meachum in her order on Wednesday found the family faces “imminent and ongoing deprivation of their constitutional rights, the potential loss of necessary medical care and the stigma attached to being the subject of an unfounded child abuse investigation.”
The judge set a hearing for March 11 on a request for a broader injunction barring enforcement of Abbott’s order against any family in the state, though the appeal could halt that proceeding.
The DFPS told Reuters on Tuesday that the agency has opened at least three child welfare inquiries subject to a Feb. 22 directive from Abbott ordering investigations of parents whose children undergo “sex change” procedures.
Abbott, a Republican running this year for a third term in office, is named as a defendant in the court challenge, along with DFPS and its commissioner, Jaime Masters.
(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, California; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Aurora Ellis)