A Texas judge on Friday temporarily blocked the state from investigating families of transgender children who have received gender-confirming medical care, a new obstacle to the state labeling such treatments as child abuse.
The temporary restraining order issued by Judge Jan Soifer halts investigations against three families who sued, and prevents any similar investigations against members of the LGBTQ advocacy group PFLAG Inc. The group has more than 600 members in Texas.
The ruling comes about a month after the Texas Supreme Court allowed the state to investigate parents of transgender youth for child abuse while also ruling in favor of one family that was among the first contacted by child welfare officials following order by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.
The latest challenge was brought by Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union.
A judge in March put that order on hold after a lawsuit brought on behalf of a 16-year-old girl whose family said it was under investigation. The Texas Supreme Court in May ruled that the lower court overstepped its authority by blocking all investigations going forward.
That lawsuit marked the first report of parents being investigated following Abbott’s directive and an earlier nonbinding legal opinion by Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton labeling certain gender-confirming treatments as “child abuse.” The Texas Department of Family and Protective Service has said it opened nine investigations following the directive and opinion.
Abbott’s directive and the attorney general’s opinion go against the nation’s largest medical groups, including the American Medical Association, which have opposed Republican-backed restrictions filed in statehouses nationwide.