Thursday May 26, 2022

Texas Supreme Court Allows Family Services Department to Pursue Trans Child Abuse Probes

The Texas Supreme Court ruled on Friday that a lower court erred in issuing an injunction blocking state child abuse investigations of the parents of transgender children, but also concluded that the governor and attorney general do not have the authority to order such investigations.

The court allowed the injunction to remain in the case of one family whose lawsuit prompted the statewide injunction in the first place. Two parents of a 16-year-old transgender child sued the state after Department of Family and Protective Services began an investigation into the family.

Texas governor Greg Abbott ordered DFPS to investigate parents who facilitate gender-transition surgeries and/or hormone treatment in February. Under the new court ruling, only DFPS retains the authority to open new investigations or continue investigations that have already begun.

“DFPS alone bears legal responsibility for its decisions,” the ruling states, adding that “DFPS’s preliminary authority to investigate allegations does not entail the ultimate authority to interfere with parents’ decisions about their children, decisions which enjoy some measure of constitutional protection whether the government agrees with them or not.”

DFPS commissioner Jaime Masters confirmed to Governor Abbott in August 2021 that “genital mutilation of a child through reassignment surgery is child abuse.” Texas attorney general Ken Paxton released his own opinion in February 2022 stating that sex-change procedures on children constitute child abuse, after which the governor ordered DFPS to begin investigations of parents of transgender children.

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