The Texas Supreme Court concluded on Friday that neither Governor Greg Abbott nor the state’s attorney general had the jurisdiction to launch child abuse investigations against families that give transgender children with particular medical care.
The state could not probe the family of a 16-year-old transgender teenager at the core of the case while the family’s complaint was ongoing in lower courts, according to the order.
The court did not go so far as to put a blanket prohibition on all such investigations, instead stating that it was up to the Department of Family and Protective Services to decide whether or not to conduct them (DFPS).
“The Governor and Attorney General were well within their rights to express their legal and policy opinions on this matter,” the court stated in its conclusion, “but DFPS was not obligated by law to adopt them.”
In an emailed statement, the DFPS stated it was studying the verdict and had no further comment.
Texas is one of the dozens of states where conservative legislators have tried to make it illegal to provide medical procedures that assist young people in the transition away from the gender they were born with. Republicans have been accused by opponents of such plans of using gender identity as a political wedge issue.
The Texas Supreme Court observed in its conclusion that DFPS officials seemed to believe they were bound by the Republican governor’s or attorney general’s positions on the topic via press releases, but that “nothing before this Court supports the concept that DFPS is thus bound.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton declared victory because the judgment did not result in a broad ban.
“Just gained a victory for families against the gender ideology of physicians, big pharma, clinics seeking to ‘trans’ confused, innocent children,” he posted on Twitter.
Paxton and Abbott did not reply to calls for more comment.
The verdict was hailed as a “victory for our clients and the rule of law” by the ACLU of Texas and Lambda Legal, both of which represent the family of a transgender adolescent under inquiry.
The youngster, known only as “Mary Doe, a juvenile” in the ACLU and Lambda lawsuits, has been on hormone treatment and puberty-delaying drugs.
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According to the complaint, no other state considers gender-affirming medical therapy to be child abuse. Gender-affirming treatment saves lives by lowering the risk of depression and suicide, according to mainstream medical and mental health specialists.
According to the DFPS, Abbott’s stance has resulted in the opening of at least nine child welfare investigations.