Texas governor sued for criminalizing care for transgender children

March 1, 2022, 9:12 PM UTC

Texas Governor Greg Abbott was sued for allegedly violating the constitutional rights of transgender children and their parents by trying to criminalize the treatment of adolescents with gender dysphoria.

Abbott’s letter last week to the state’s child-welfare agency, directing it to investigate families for child abuse if the are suspected of seeking gender-affirming care is an illegal attempt to “legislate by press release” after state lawmakers declined to pass such a law, a pair of civil rights groups said in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Austin, Texas.

The governor “trampled on the constitutional rights of transgender children, their parents, and professionals who provide vital care to transgender children,” the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal said in the complaint.

Abbott, a Republican up for reelection, ordered the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate instances of “sex change” procedures for youth, including surgeries and puberty-blocking drugs. He said licensed professionals who have contact with kids, including doctors, nurses and teachers, could face criminal penalties for “failure to report such child abuse.”

The governor’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. But Abbott pledged on Twitter on Feb. 22 that his directive would be enforced.

“They are joining a politically motivated misinformation campaign with no consideration of medical science,” Lambda Legal Senior Counsel Paul Castillo said in a statement.

The groups filed the suit on behalf of three Texas residents who are using pseudonyms to protect their identities, as well as a Houston-based clinical psychologist, Megan Mooney.

“No family should have to fear being torn apart because they are supporting their trans child,” said Adri Perez, policy and advocacy strategist at the ACLU of Texas.

Both Abbott and Paxton face challengers in Tuesday’s state primary vote, and limiting transgender rights is seen as broadly popular with the committed conservatives who are most likely to vote.

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