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Date : May 22, 2022

Texas appeals court upholds temporary injunction preventing the state from investigating families seeking gender-affirming care for transgender children

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (L) speaks alongside Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) at a joint news conference

A Texas appeals court reinstated a temporary injunction Monday ensuring families seeking gender-affirming care for their trans children cannot be investigated by state authorities.

The ruling comes after a district court judge in Travis County ordered the state of Texas to temporarily stop investigating families earlier this month, but Attorney General Ken Paxton appealed the injunction and declared investigations could continue during the appeal process under the law.

Lambda Legal and the ACLU filed a request last week with the appellate court, arguing emergency relief and a reinstatement of the temporary injunction were needed to “prevent imminent and irreparable harm.”

The state’s Third Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the civil rights groups Monday, writing in an opinion that “to follow the Governor’s directive pending the outcome of this litigation would result in irreparable harm” and a temporary injunction is necessary to “preserve the rights of all parties” while the appeals process plays out.

The legal battle began shortly after Paxton, in late February, declared gender-affirming surgical procedures in children and prescribing drugs that affect puberty should be considered child abuse. In response to Paxton’s legal opinion, Gov. Greg Abbott directed the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) “to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation of any reported instances of these abusive procedures in the State of Texas.”

Within two weeks of the directive, the state had opened at least nine investigations of families, according to DFPS.

When asked by CNN Monday night whether DFPS would halt investigations following the latest appeals court ruling, DFPS spokesman Patrick Crimmins said in an email, “We will follow the law.”

CNN has reached out to the offices of Abbott and Paxton for comment.

Parents reject governor’s directive

Abbott’s directive was seen by many as an attack on transgender children and their families.

The American Academy of Pediatrics explained that hormone therapy and surgery are not the only methods of gender-affirming care available to children. These treatments are used to treat gender dysphoria, or the medical condition in which a person’s gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth.

The same day Judge Amy Clark Meachum instated the original temporary injunction earlier this month, parents and advocates spoke out against such investigations during a meeting of the Texas Family and Protective Services Council in Austin.

“Children will die because of Governor Abbott’s order,” warned the mother of a teenager who said her child attempted suicide at the age of 12 after coming out as transgender.

At the meeting, dozens of people urged the state to remember its duty to protect all minors, including transgender children. Advocates, including nurses and child care workers, read statements from trans youth and parents who they said were terrified to appear in person.

In one statement, a parent asked, “How can someone not want a child to feel comfortable in their own skin?”

“We hope to be able to provide them with the tools to make them the best version of themselves without the fear of our child being ripped from a loving home,” the parent added.

One statement read by attorneys at the meeting was titled: “Don’t Make Us Write Our Transgender Son’s Obituary.”

The family wrote that “gender affirming care is life-saving care.”

Texas is not the only state trying to pass what critics call anti-LGBTQ laws.

Florida’s House and Senate passed the controversial “Don’t say Gay” bill earlier this month that looks to ban certain discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom.

And in Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed HF 2416 into law, which bans transgender women and girls from participating in sports teams consistent with their gender at accredited schools and colleges. “Based on their sex” — as defined by the bill — means the sex that is defined on a student’s birth certificate.