By Dan Whitcomb
(Reuters) – A Texas judge on Friday blocked, at least for now, Governor Greg Abbott’s directive that child protective services investigate medical providers or parents over gender transition treatments for minors.
Travis County District Judge Jan Soifer issued a temporary restraining order at the request of the gay rights organization PFLAG, which sued Abbott and the state over his February mandate to the Texas Department of Family Protective Services.
“That families will be protected from invasive, unnecessary, and unnerving investigations by DFPS simply for helping their transgender children thrive and be themselves is a very good thing,” Brian Bond, PFLAG executive director, said in a statement.
Abbott did not immediately issue a statement in response to an inquiry by Reuters. The Department of Family and Protective Services, which is named as a defendant along with Commissioner Jaime Masters, has said it cannot discuss specific investigations or comment on litigation.
The governor’s order marked the latest salvo in an ongoing political battle over transgender issues, including medical treatments on children, participation in girls’ sports and access to women’s private spaces.
Abbott called for investigations of health professionals who allow children to be administered hormones to halt puberty or change their bodies or to undergo sex reassignment surgeries. He told DFPS to investigate parents of any child who obtained such treatments.
PFLAG argued in the lawsuit, which was supported by the ACLU and Lambda Legal, that transgender children need access to gender-transition hormones and procedures to protect their mental health until adulthood.
Opponents of such treatments say children and teenagers are too young to make such life-altering decisions and the long-term effects of puberty-blockers and hormones are not yet fully understood.
The Texas Supreme Court found in a previous ruling that the governor could not order the investigations but limited the protection to the specific plaintiffs. The wider case is still pending.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by David Gregorio)