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March 1, 2022

The parents of a transgender teenager in Texas filed a lawsuit to stop state agencies from investigating reports of gender-transition procedures on children as cases of possible child abuse.

The parents, identified as John and Jane Doe, and their child, identified as Mary Doe, say in the complaint that an investigator from state Child Protective Services came to their residence Feb. 25 and sought permission to access Mary’s medical records. The family said they refused.

The investigator said there was only one allegation against the parents, that their trans daughter may have been given gender-affirming health care and was transitioning from male to female, the complaint said.

“We are terrified for Mary’s health and wellbeing, and for our family. I feel betrayed by the state and the agency for whom I work,” Mary Doe said in the complaint. She’s an employee of the Texas Department of Family Protective Services now on paid leave.

“Their (the defendants’) actions caused terror and anxiety among transgender youth and their families across the Lone Star State and singled out transgender youth and their families for discrimination and harassment,” the complaint said.

The Does’ complaint, filed in Travis County District Court in Houston, seeks an injunction to stop state agencies from acting on Gov. Greg Abbott’s order to investigate reports of the “gender-affirming” procedures. The Does say Abbott’s order violates the state constitution and the rights of transgender youth.

Megan Mooney, a Houston psychologist who works with trans people, is also a plaintiff. Abbott, Texas DFPS Commissioner Jamie Allen, and the department itself are defendants. The state government did not respond to The New York Times for a story about the lawsuit.

Last week, Abbott sent a letter to the DFPS directing it “to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation of any reported instances of these abusive procedures in the State of Texas.” The letter said outlawed “sex change” treatments include reassignment surgeries, removal of body parts, and the administration of puberty-blocking drugs or supraphysiologic doses of testosterone or estrogen. Supraphysiologic means larger than would appear naturally.

Abbott said he was acting in response to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s recent opinion that “a number of so-called ‘sex change’ procedures constitute child abuse under existing Texas law.” Abbott’s order said people with a legal obligation to report child abuse could be prosecuted, including doctors, nurses, and teachers.

The Times noted that Paxton’s opinion and Abbott’s order came right before the March 1 Texas primary election and that each politician faces competition from far-right opponents. The Times said the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit for the family.

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