DALLAS — Gov. Greg Abbott and state officials faced a setback Friday in Texas’ bid to open child abuse investigations into parents who provide gender-affirming care to children.

The Austin-based 3rd Court of Appeals upheld temporary injunctions in two related cases that stopped the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services from investigating allegations of child abuse for families of transgender children who aid in accessing puberty blockers and hormone therapy.

It’s been an ongoing fight in the state since 2022, when Abbott ordered the Department of Family and Protective Services to do “prompt and thorough” investigations into parents. But it’s not just parents who may be affected. Abbott said educators and members of the general public may also face consequences for not reporting what the state deems child abuse.

The appeals court has ruled that an investigation could cause parents to lose their jobs and their family’s access to medical care approved by their doctor. For some, it could cause permanent damage to them and their families, said Brian Klosterboer, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas.

“One of our clients attempted to take his own life after Gov. Abbott issued his letter. The actions of one politician have such devastating effects,” he said. “This kind of rule threatens to take kids away from their loving and supportive parents.”

In a partial win for Abbott, the appeals court also dismissed filings against him for lack of standing. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Abbott did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday.


The Dallas Morning News reached out to conservative advocacy groups and did not receive a response.

This ruling is one portion of a larger case in Texas. Transgender advocates and opponents are awaiting a decision from the Texas Supreme Court on Senate Bill 14, the Texas law that bars medical professionals from giving gender-affirming care to children.

Others in the legal world are waiting to see how Abbott will respond to the ruling.

“There are multiple fronts in this battle and it’s a temporary injunction, which means the state can still appeal and go back to trial to try and finish the case,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, a lawyer for New York-based Lambda Legal, a civil rights legal group for LGBTQ causes. “But this is a resounding victory, albeit, a temporary one.”

The ACLU’s Klosterboer said the organization will be ready however Abbott responds.

“I remain hopeful that the policymakers will decide not to keep pursuing this extreme and hateful theory and rhetoric,” he said. “But, of course, we will be fully prepared if they choose to appeal this decision to the Texas Supreme Court.”


The court ruled the Family and Protective Services department lacked the rule-making authority to change the definition of child abuse in the case of transgender minors. That authority falls on the Legislature.

The rule Abbott issued to the department is “constitutionally vague,” according to the court’s ruling.

In February 2022, Abbott directed the Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate parents who help their children access puberty blockers and hormone therapy to treat gender dysphoria.

Jane Doe, a pseudonym for the mother of a then 16-year-old transgender child, was an employee in the department that Abbott ordered to open investigations. She was placed on paid leave shortly after Abbott’s decision and her partner, referred to as John Doe, was paid a visit from an investigator and had to participate in multiple interviews.

Doe filed a lawsuit where she said Abbott and the state were in violation of their power by changing the definition of child abuse.

During the trial, board-certified pediatrician Cassandra Brady testified that puberty blockers are reversible, safe and effective and the use of gender-affirming hormones is also safe, court documents show.


Brady told the court that if kids experiencing gender dysphoria don’t receive medically necessary treatments, they could face significant harm to their mental health.

“I think our biggest challenge in Texas is trying to return to common sense and civility. These actions are, frankly, unprecedented,” Lambda Legal’s Gonzalez-Pagan said. “The actions taken by the Court of Appeals, SB14 and other actions by the state of Texas are, by all measures, an intentionally prosecutory campaign to force LGBTQ+ people to live in a state of fear.”

“I just hope we can return to a place where we trust medical professionals and allow people to live their lives. That’s the end goal and we have a long road ahead.”


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