Texas Sued For Classifying Gender-Affirming Care As Child Abuse

Civil rights groups say Gov. Greg Abbott's new policy violates Texas law and the rights of transgender kids and their parents.

Civil rights groups have filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas over a new policy that classifies gender-affirming care for kids as child abuse, subjects parents and doctors to investigations, and blocks health care for transgender youth.

In a complaint filed Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal argue that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s new directive violates both the state constitution and the rights of transgender children and their parents.

The Republican governor and other state leaders “have, without Constitutional or statutory authority, acted to create a new definition of ‘child abuse’ that singles out a subset of loving parents for scrutiny, investigation, and potential family separation,” the lawsuit states. “Their actions caused terror and anxiety among transgender youth and their families across the Lone Star State and singled out transgender youth and their families for discrimination and harassment.”

Furthermore, the lawsuit argues, the state’s actions “threaten to endanger the health and wellbeing of transgender youth in Texas by depriving them of medically necessary care, while communicating that transgender people and their families are not welcome in Texas.”

Last week, Abbott issued a letter directing the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate any parents who seek out what he’s calling “abusive gender-transitioning procedures” for their children, including genital reconstruction, mastectomies and the administration of puberty-blocking drugs and other hormone therapies.

Abbott’s directive also calls on other state agencies to investigate any facilities where those treatments may have occurred.

Tuesday’s lawsuit was filed on behalf of one of the first families investigated under Abbott’s new policy, which includes a mother who works for the family services department tasked with conducting those investigations. The agency has placed her on administrative leave, and investigators have shown up at her door, the lawsuit states, leaving her worried she may permanently lose her livelihood.

Her daughter, a 16-year-old identified as Mary Doe in the lawsuit, “has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, a serious medical condition, and is currently receiving medically necessary care for the treatment of her gender dysphoria,” the lawsuit details.

“We are terrified for Mary’s health and wellbeing, and for our family. I feel betrayed by my state and the agency for whom I work,” her mother wrote in a declaration filed with the lawsuit.

“Being able to be affirmed as who she is, including through the course of treatment prescribed by her doctors,” she continued, “has brought Mary significant relief and allowed her to thrive.”

Abbott’s office has not yet offered any comment regarding the lawsuit.

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