Media Contact

Antonio Arellano, ACLU of Texas, 713-459-8212, [email protected]

March 1, 2022

AUSTIN, Texas — The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Texas, and Lambda Legal today asked a Texas state court to block the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) from investigating parents who work with medical professionals to provide their adolescent children with medically necessary gender-affirming care.

The lawsuit names Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who recently issued a directive stating that providing gender-affirming care should be considered a form of child abuse. The suit also names DFPS Commissioner Jaime Masters and DFPS, as defendants. The lawsuit includes claims that these recent directives were issued without proper authority, in violation of the Texas Administrative Procedures Act, the separation of powers requirements of the Texas Constitution, and the constitutional rights of transgender youth and their parents.

“No family should have to fear being torn apart because they are supporting their trans child,” said Adri Pérez (they/them), policy and advocacy strategist at the ACLU of Texas. “A week before an election, Gov. Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a partisan political attack that isn’t rooted in the needs of families, the evidence from doctors and the expertise from child welfare professionals. Families with trans kids in Texas have been under attack for too long. Gender-affirming health care saved my life, and other trans Texans should be able to access medically necessary, lifesaving care.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of an employee of DFPS with a transgender child, her husband, and the teen herself. According to the complaint, this family has had an investigator already arrive at their house. The family has filed the lawsuit anonymously. Dr. Megan Mooney, a licensed psychologist who is considered a mandatory reporter under Texas law and cannot comply with the governor’s directive without harming her clients and violating her ethical obligations, is also a plaintiff in the suit.

"For Governor Abbott and Attorney General Paxton, it seems the cruelty is the point,” said Paul Castillo (he/him), Lambda Legal Senior Counsel. “They are joining a politically motivated misinformation campaign with no consideration of medical science and seem determined to criminalize parents seeking to care and provide for their kids, and medical professionals abiding by accepted standards of care for transgender youth. Gender-affirming care for the treatment of gender dysphoria is medically necessary care, full stop. Criminalizing that care and threatening to tear children from their families is unconscionable and terrifying, and cannot stand.”

“Our youth, our communities, will not be used as political props,” said Emmett Schelling (he/him), executive director of Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT). “We will not allow for these continued efforts to restrict access to life-saving care and criminalize families based on patently false information. To Attorney General Paxton and Gov. Abbott, we will not continue to play a sadistic role in your political theater.”

While doctors and medical organizations have been providing gender-affirming care to youth, including transgender youth, for decades, it has increasingly become a target of attacks from state lawmakers. After Arkansas became the first state to pass a ban on gender-affirming care for trans youth last year, a federal court blocked the law from being enforced. While dozens of states have proposed laws similar to what became law in Arkansas — including some like Alabama that have proposed criminal penalties for providing gender-affirming care to youth — Texas is the only state saying providing this lifesaving care could lead to a child being removed from their family and placed in the foster care system.

“Disinformation, being spread about transgender people and their healthcare, highlights, exaggerates and imagines a non-existent problem as an urgent moral emergency that must be tackled right away,” said Ricardo Martinez, (he/him), chief executive officer for Equality Texas. “It’s predictable and sad that politicians will further sow civil discord by amplifying lies about trans people to score political points. Misconstruing the law and amplifying junk science to attack innocent children and their parents is cruel — beneath contempt — and could have a devastating effect on transgender youth and their families.”

“These efforts to cut off and criminalize necessary health care for transgender minors are in direct conflict with the recommendations of medical professionals and have nothing to do with what’s best for trans youth,” said Chase Strangio (he/him), deputy director for trans justice with the ACLU LGBTQ & HIV Project. “They may be escalating, but these attacks are not new. Trans youth need you to take the fury you have over what’s happening in Texas and share it with lawmakers in every state that is trying to make it harder for trans youth to survive.”

A court could rule as soon as Tuesday. The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union Jon L. Stryker and Slobodan Randjelović LGBTQ & HIV Project, the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, the ACLU of Texas, Lambda Legal, and the law firm of Baker Botts LLP.