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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has asked the state Supreme Court to intervene to allow child abuse investigations into parents of transgender children. His request comes just days after a Texas appeals court reinstated a temporary injunction blocking the state's child welfare agency from investigating parents solely because they provide gender-affirming care to their children.
The Texas 3rd Court of Appeals issued the order as part of a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal on behalf of the parents of a transgender teenager who were being investigated by child welfare workers.
“Having reviewed the record, we conclude that reinstating the temporary injunction is necessary to maintain the status quo and preserve the rights of all parties,” three appellate justices wrote.
Paxton has asked the state Supreme Court to overturn that injunction, claiming in a petition filed Monday that the injunction "prevents the State from fulfilling its duty to protect Texas children."
In a statement, the ACLU of Texas and Lambda Legal said that while Paxton's petition is "not surprising, it is disappointing and dangerous."
Last month, Paxton issued a non-binding legal opinion arguing that some gender-affirming care for minors could be considered child abuse. Four days after the opinion published, Gov. Greg Abbott directed the Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate parents facilitating gender-affirming care for their kids.
While most gender-affirming care focuses on “social transition” — allowing a child to express their gender how they’d like — some transgender children take puberty blockers, a completely reversible medical treatment that’s prescribed for a wide range of situations beyond transition. Paxton and Abbott also cited concerns over gender-affirming surgeries that are rarely, if ever, used on children.
District Judge Amy Clark Meachum issued the temporary injunction March 11 after the ACLU and Lambda Legal sued.
The same night Meachum’s injunction was issued, Paxton filed an appeal and claimed he froze the injunction, allowing the state to continue investigations. However, experts said the appeal fell into a complicated legal area, and lawyers had challenged such automatic stays before, claiming the state should not be able to overturn an injunction simply by filing an appeal.
Until the Texas Supreme Court weighs in, the injunction will continue to block the ongoing — and any new — investigations into Texans accused of child abuse based only on the allegation that they provided gender-affirming medical care.