AUSTIN, Texas — The Travis County District Court granted a temporary restraining order on Friday to block the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) from investigating PFLAG families who are supporting their transgender children with medically necessary health care, including the three plaintiff families in the case.
The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal, and the ACLU of Texas, along with Texas-based law firm Baker Botts LLP filed the lawsuit in state court on behalf of PFLAG National. The court’s ruling stops the DFPS from investigating the parents named in the lawsuit. Under the terms of the temporary restraining order, families need only provide notice of their PFLAG membership if ever contacted by DFPS.
“That families will be protected from invasive, unnecessary, and unnerving investigations by DFPS simply for helping their transgender children thrive and be themselves is a very good thing,” said Brian K. Bond (he/him), Executive Director of PFLAG National. “However, let’s be clear: These investigations into loving and affirming families shouldn’t be happening in the first place. PFLAG National and our chapters throughout Texas remain committed to ensuring every transgender Texan is safe, empowered, and can thrive.”
The lawsuit names Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who issued a February directive stating that health care that is medically necessary for treating gender dysphoria should be considered a form of child abuse. The suit also names Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Commissioner Jaime Masters and DFPS as defendants.
Doctors and medical organizations have been providing gender-affirming care to transgender youth for decades. However, it has increasingly become a target of attacks from state lawmakers.
“This is now the sixth time in recent months a Texas court has ruled in favor of transgender youth and their loving, supportive families.” said Adri Pérez (they/them), policy and advocacy strategist at the ACLU of Texas. “The court and Texans agree: weaponizing the child-welfare system against loving families causes irreparable harm. It is senseless for governor-appointed Jamie Masters and DFPS to keep pushing forward these baseless investigations, and for Ken Paxton to keep wasting state resources by filing reckless appeals in his campaign to target transgender Texans.”
“We are relieved that—at least for now—the threat of a child abuse investigation is no longer hanging over the heads of PFLAG families here in Texas,” said Paul D. Castillo (he/him), Lambda Legal senior counsel. “When we learned that DFPS had restarted investigations, when the Texas Supreme Court made it clear neither the governor nor the attorney general had the authority to compel such investigations, we knew we needed to move quickly to shore up support and protection for those parents who are working to provide love, support, and safety for their kids. It is unconscionable that DFPS persists in causing more trauma and harm for these youth and these families. We appreciate that the judge saw this activity clearly for what it was, and moved so rapidly to halt it.”
In an earlier lawsuit brought by the ACLU, Lambda Legal, ACLU of Texas, and Baker Botts, the Texas Supreme Court upheld part of an appeals court order preventing DFPS from investigating parents who work with medical professionals to provide their adolescent transgender children with medically necessary health care. That case, Doe v. Abbott, is still pending.
PFLAG provides confidential peer support, education, and advocacy to LGBTQ+ people, their parents and families, and allies. With a nationwide network of hundreds of chapters — including 17 in Texas — PFLAG National works with families, schools, and communities to build safety and support for transgender youth.
The lawsuit references a suicide attempt and suicidal thoughts in the LGBTQIA+ community. If you or someone you know requires help and support, please contact The Trevor Lifeline (866) 488-7386 or TransLifeline (877) 565-8860. In addition, any person contacted by DFPS or who knows of a family that has been contacted by DFPS is encouraged to contact the Lambda Legal Help Desk.
Lambda Legal, the ACLU, and ACLU of Texas defend the rights and dignity of LGBTQ+ people alongside our partner organizations in Texas, including the Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT), Equality Texas, Texas Freedom Network, HRC, the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF), PFLAG, and others. Shared resources and information can be found at txtranskids.org.