Once again, a Travis County District Court has granted a temporary restraining order blocking the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services from investigating families who are supporting their transgender children with medically necessary health care.

The restraining order issued today (Friday, June 10)  comes in a lawsuit filed on Wednesday, June 8, by the ACLU, Lambda Legal, ACLU Texas and Texas-based law firm Baker Botts LLP on behalf of PFLAG National and three PFLAG member families.

The court’s ruling stops the DFPS from investigating the parents named in the lawsuit and other families in the state who are PFLAG members. Under the terms of the temporary restraining order, families need only provide notice of their PFLAG membership if ever contacted by DFPS.

For information on PFLAG and how to become a member, visit PFLAG.org.

“That families will be protected from invasive, unnecessary and unnerving investigations by DFPS simply for helping their transgender children thrive and be themselves is a very good thing,” said Brian K. Bond, executive director of PFLAG National. “However, let’s be clear: These investigations into loving and affirming families shouldn’t be happening in the first place. PFLAG National and our chapters throughout Texas remain committed to ensuring every transgender Texan is safe, empowered, and can thrive.”

The lawsuit names Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who issued a February directive, based on a non-binding and since-discredited opinion by Attorney General Ken Paxton, stating that health care that is medically necessary for treating gender dysphoria should be considered a form of child abuse. The suit also names DFPS Commissioner Jaime Masters and DFPS as defendants.

Noting that doctors and medical organizations have been providing gender-affirming care to transgender youth for decades, Adri Pérez, policy and advocacy strategist at the ACLU of Texas, said, “This is now the sixth time in recent months a Texas court has ruled in favor of transgender youth and their loving, supportive families. The court and Texans agree: Weaponizing the child-welfare system against loving families causes irreparable harm. It is senseless for governor-appointed Jamie Masters and DFPS to keep pushing forward these baseless investigations, and for Ken Paxton to keep wasting state resources by filing reckless appeals in his campaign to target transgender Texans.”

Paul D. Castillo, Lambda Legal senior counsel, added, “We are relieved that — at least for now — the threat of a child abuse investigation is no longer hanging over the heads of PFLAG families here in Texas.

“When we learned that DFPS had restarted investigations, when the Texas Supreme Court made it clear neither the governor nor the attorney general had the authority to compel such investigations, we knew we needed to move quickly to shore up support and protection for those parents who are working to provide love, support, and safety for their kids,” Castillo said. “It is unconscionable that DFPS persists in causing more trauma and harm for these youth and these families. We appreciate that the judge saw this activity clearly for what it was, and moved so rapidly to halt it.”

In an earlier lawsuit brought by the ACLU, Lambda Legal, ACLU of Texas, and Baker Botts, the Texas Supreme Court upheld part of an appeals court order preventing DFPS from investigating parents who work with medical professionals to provide their adolescent transgender children with medically necessary health care. That case, Doe v. Abbott, is still pending.

This mew lawsuit references a suicide attempt and suicidal thoughts in the LGBTQ community. If you or someone you know requires help and support, contact The Trevor Lifeline 866-488-7386 or TransLifeline 877-565-8860.

In addition, any person contacted by DFPS or who knows of a family that has been contacted by DFPS is encouraged to contact the Lambda Legal Help Desk.

— Tammye Nash