Appeals court upholds ban of Texas gender-affirming care investigations

A Texas appeals court has upheld a ruling blocking the state from investigating parents if they allow their children to receive gender-affirming care under a law signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. File Photo by Sergio Flores/UPI
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March 30 (UPI) -- A Texas appeals court has upheld a lower court ruling blocking the state from investigating parents for wrongdoing if they allow their children to receive gender-affirming care.

In its 53-page ruling issued Friday, the Texas Court of Appeals for the Third District in Austin affirmed a lower court ruling granting a temporary injunction against state officials.

The ruling specifically referenced Texas Department of Family Services and Commissioner Stephanie Muth.

Last May, the Republican-controlled Texas legislature passed the controversial bill to ban gender-affirming care for minors, sending it to the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott, who signed it into law.

At the time, the state became the latest to pass similar legislation barring those under the age of 18 from accessing the type of healthcare.

In early 2022, Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton ordered state agencies to investigate gender-affirming care for transgender children as cases of "child abuse."

In June of that year, a district court judge temporarily blocked the state from conducting the investigations into parents who provide gender-affirming care to their transgender children, leaving at least eight cases open at the time.

Friday's appeals court ruling largely upholds that injunction against Abbott, Muth and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

"We reverse the part of the order denying the plea to the jurisdiction as to all claims asserted against the Governor and render judgment dismissing all claims against the Governor," the court wrote in its decision.

"Because we have dismissed the 53 claims against the Governor for lack of standing and the State Appellants no longer seek injunctive relief against the Governor, we vacate the part of the trial court's order granting a temporary injunction against the Governor," the ruling said.

The American Civil Liberties Union applauded the decision.

The ACLU filed the initial legal challenge against Abbott's order on behalf of a 16-year-old in Texas who was under investigation for taking puberty-delaying medications and hormone therapy.

"Transgender youth have always existed and always will, and the vast majority of Texans do not support separating them from their families or taking away their life-saving health care," ACLU Texas Policy and Advocacy Strategist Ash Hall said in a statement.

"The maneuvers by Texas state officials against transgender youth are bullying masquerading as policy. Nothing could be further from abuse than parents loving and supporting their transgender children. This decision is another much-needed victory for trans youth and those who love and support them."

Earlier in the week, a Texas judge blocked the state attorney general from accessing information on trans youth from PFLAG, a national nonprofit that supports LGBTQ families.