AUSTIN, Texas — The Travis County District Court granted a temporary restraining order on Wednesday to block the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) from investigating the plaintiffs of a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas (ACLU of Texas), the ACLU, and Lambda Legal.
The court’s ruling stops the DFPS from investigating the parents named in the lawsuit because they are working with medical professionals to provide their adolescent child with medically necessary treatment. The court limited the temporary restraining order to the plaintiffs in the case but scheduled a hearing next Friday, March 11, at 10 a.m. CT to decide whether to block the governor, commissioner, and DFPS’s actions more broadly.
The plaintiffs sought this emergency relief after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a directive stating that providing gender-affirming care is a form of child abuse and DFPS announced they would follow the governor's directive. The lawsuit names Abbott, DFPS Commissioner Jaime Masters, and DFPS as defendants.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of an employee of DFPS with a transgender child, her husband, and their transgender teen. According to the complaint, this family has had an investigator already arrive at their home. 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.
The ACLU of Texas, ACLU, and Lambda Legal issued the following statements on the court’s decision:
“We appreciate the relief granted to our clients, but this should never have happened and is unfathomably cruel,” said Brian Klosterboer (he/him), ACLU of Texas attorney. “Families should not have to fear being separated because they are providing the best possible health care for their children. The elected leaders and agencies of this state should not play politics with people’s lives. We will do all that’s possible to stop these abuses of power and ensure transgender young people can receive medically recommended treatment.”
“We are relieved that — at least for now — the threat of a child abuse investigation is no longer hanging over the heads of the family members in this case,” said Paul Castillo (he/him), Lambda Legal senior counsel. “It is unconscionable for DFPS to still pursue any investigation or inflict more trauma and harm. We look forward to continuing the fight for all Texas families.”
“This is a critical victory and important first step in stopping these egregious and illegal actions from Texas officials. We are relieved for our plaintiffs and ready to keep fighting to stop the governor, commissioner, and DFPS from inflicting further harm on trans people and their families and communities across Texas,” said Chase Strangio (he/him), deputy director for trans justice with the ACLU LGBTQ & HIV Project. “Transgender youth in Texas should be able to access lifesaving, medically necessary care with the support of their families and doctors. Attempts to cut off transgender adolescents from care will not make them any less trans but it will make them less likely to grow up at all.”