District Judge Amy Clark Meachum wrote that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s Feb. 22 directive to the Department of Family and Protective Services was beyond the scope of his authority and unconstitutional.
The directive was given the effect of a new law or rule but without any law being passed, and the actions “violate separation of powers by impermissibly encroaching into the legislative domain,” Meachum wrote.
The state Legislature last year failed to pass a bill that would have made it a felony alongside physical and sexual abuse to provide gender-affirming care to minors.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which was among those that challenged the Feb. 22 directive, hailed Friday's court ruling.
“The judge recognized the governor and DFPS' actions for what they were — unauthorized and unconstitutional exercises of power that causes severe, immediate and devastating harms to transgender youth and their families across Texas,” Chase Strangio, deputy director for Trans Justice with the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.
Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who in a non-binding opinion said providing gender-affirming medical care to minors was child abuse, immediately vowed to appeal the injunction.
Paxton has been supportive of a Feb. 22 letter from Abbott to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services directing the agency to investigate children receiving what he called “abusive gender-transitioning procedures.”
More than 60 companies, including Levi Strauss & Co., Apple, Google, Capital One, Dow and Unilever, signed a letter opposing Abbott’s directive published in the Dallas Morning News on Friday. The full-page ad was titled, “Discrimination is bad for business.”
Meachum last week issued a restraining order preventing DFPS from looking into the family of a 16-year-old transgender child who was told they were under investigation.
The lawsuit filed on behalf of the 16-year-old’s family said Abbott “circumvented the will of the legislature” by issuing the directive. It argued that the policy violated the constitutional rights of transgender children, their families and medical professionals.
“Their actions caused terror and anxiety among transgender youth and their families across the Lone Star State and singled out transgender youth and their families,” the lawsuit says.
Friday’s order from Meachum applies statewide.
Another plaintiff in the lawsuit is Megan Mooney, a psychologist who would be required to report transgender clients under the governor's directive. She said in the suit that compliance would violate her professional standards of ethics and harm her patients.
Zenei Triunfo-Cortez, president of National Nurses United, the largest association of registered nurses in the U.S., called Abbott’s directive an attempt to prevent transgender youth, their families and providers from accessing the best care.
“While it would be easy to view these attacks simply as political gamesmanship, and they are that, they are also a very real and grave threat to the health, existence, and futures of transgender people,” Triunfo-Cortez said in a statement.
Abbott issued the directive one week before the Texas primaries, where he faced several challengers on his right. The governor, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, finished with more than 50 percent of the vote and will face Democrat Beto O'Rourke in the fall as he seeks a third term.