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Texas appeals court reinstates injunction blocking investigations into parents of transgender kids

The court order is the latest move in a legal battle over gender-affirming care for minors in Texas.
Image: Texas Governor Greg Abbott
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in Conroe on Jan. 29.Go Nakamura / Reuters file

A Texas appeals court on Monday reinstated an injunction blocking a state agency from investigating parents whose transgender children receive gender-affirming care.

The Texas Third Court of Appeals ruled on a motion filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and Lambda Legal, which had filed a lawsuit on behalf of a transgender teen’s parents who were being investigated for possible child abuse by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

District Judge Amy Clark Meachum ruled this month that a Feb. 22 directive by Gov. Greg Abbott to investigate the parents of transgender children for child abuse was unconstitutional and an overreach of the governor’s authority, which threatened to violate the separation of powers “by impermissibly encroaching into the legislative domain.”

Texas appealed the ruling, with state Attorney General Ken Paxton saying Meachum's order was "frozen," allowing investigations to resume.

The appeals court reinstated Meachum's injunction Monday, writing that lawyers challenging Abbott's order had sufficiently demonstrated that permitting the Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate gender-affirming care as child abuse would result in irreparable harm.

“Having reviewed the record, we conclude that reinstating the temporary injunction is necessary to maintain the status quo and preserve the rights of all parties,” the appeals court wrote.

Abbott wrote last month that gender-affirming procedures “constitute child abuse under existing Texas law” and called on Family and Protective Services to investigate the parents of transgender kids receiving gender-affirming care.

Monday's ruling means any investigations will be paused while the case goes to trial.