The parents of a transgender teenager in Texas said in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that the state is investigating them after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott ordered officials to look into reports of gender-confirming care for kids as abuse.
The parents of the 16-year-old girl are asking a judge to block the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services from investigating them and the parents of other transgender youth under a directive Abbott issued last month.
"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, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal, said.
The lawsuit marks the first report of parents being investigated following Abbott's order and an earlier nonbinding legal opinion by Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton labeling certain gender-confirming treatments as “child abuse."
DFPS, which last week said it did not have any open cases, said Tuesday it had received three reports since Abbott's directive and Paxton's opinion but would not say how many resulted in investigations. The agency declined to comment on the suit. The governor's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The lawsuit doesn't name the parents, but said the mother works at DFPS on the review of reports of abuse and neglect. The day of Abbott's order, she asked her supervisor how it would affect the agency's policy, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit said the mother was placed on leave because she has a transgender daughter and the following day was informed her family would be investigated in accordance with the governor's directive.
Abbott's directive and the attorney general's opinion go against the nation’s largest medical groups, including the American Medical Association, which have opposed Republican-backed restrictions filed in statehouses nationwide.
Arkansas last year became the first state to pass a law prohibiting gender confirming treatments for minors, and Tennessee approved a similar measure. A judge blocked Arkansas' law, and the state is appealing.
The Texas teen, who has received puberty-delaying medication and hormone therapy, has been “traumatized” by the prospect of being separated from her parents and losing her care, the lawsuit said.
“The stress has taken a noticeable toll on her, and our daughter who is typically joyful and happy, is now moodier, stressed, and overwhelmed," the mother said in a declaration filed with the complaint.
The plaintiffs include a licensed psychologist who the lawsuit said would be put in a “untenable situation" by putting her at risk of losing her license and other penalties if she doesn't report clients who receive gender-affirming care to the state.