Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

"Protect trans youth" sign

A protester holds a sign at the Reclaim Pride Coalition's third annual Queer Liberation March on June 27, 2021 in New York, New York. (Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images)

ACLU Files Suit Over Texas Investigation Into Parents of Trans Child

"No family should have to fear being torn apart because they are supporting their trans child," said one advocate.

Julia Conley

Civil rights organizations on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and the Department of Family and Protective Services in order to halt state investigations into parents with transgender children.

"A week before an election, Gov. Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a partisan political attack that isn't rooted in the needs of families, the evidence from doctors, and the expertise from child welfare professionals."

After Abbott directed the DFPS to treat gender-affirming healthcare for transgender minors as child abuse and pursue parents who are supportive of their children's use of puberty-blockers or other gender-affirming care, at least one family is already under investigation, according to Melissa Gira Grant of The New Republic.

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Texas, and Lambda Legal are suing the state, representing a family and a psychologist who want the directive blocked.

"No family should have to fear being torn apart because they are supporting their trans child," said Adri Pérez, policy and advocacy strategist at the ACLU of Texas. "A week before an election, Gov. Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a partisan political attack that isn't rooted in the needs of families, the evidence from doctors, and the expertise from child welfare professionals."

"Families with trans kids in Texas have been under attack for too long," Perez added. "Gender-affirming healthcare saved my life, and other trans Texans should be able to access medically necessary, lifesaving care."

As Common Dreams reported last week, based on a legal opinion released by Paxton, Abbott has warned healthcare providers, educators, other licensed professionals, and even members of the general public to report gender-affirming care to the state.

At least two county attorneys have said they won't prosecute any families referred by DFPS, but a woman who works for the department is now being investigated after disclosing to her supervisor that her daughter is receiving medically necessary gender-affirming care.

As Grant reported:

Jane Doe, the mother of a trans child, Mary, is herself a DFPS employee, according to the filing. On February 23, after the Paxton and Abbott directives, she sought guidance from her supervisor about how the changes would impact her work. “Such clarification was important for her family as well as to her ability to perform her job at DFPS," the filing states. "That same day, and just mere hours later, Jane Doe was placed on leave from her employment because she has a transgender daughter with a medical need for treatment of gender dysphoria."

The Does are also now being investigated by DFPS. Two days after Jane was sent home on leave, a DFPS Child Protective Services investigator came to the Doe home. "The CPS investigator disclosed that the sole allegation against Jane Doe and John Doe is that they have a transgender daughter and that their daughter may have been provided with medically necessary gender-affirming health care and is 'currently transitioning from male to female.'"

"While I was working on this story this morning," Grant tweeted Tuesday, "CPS showed up at the door of one mom in Texas I am in touch with. This is all going down very fast."

With Abbott and Paxton both facing elections this year amid a nationwide right-wing campaign attacking the rights of transgender children—despite evidence that the general public has little appetite for placing restrictions on them—critics have accused the two Republicans of blatantly using vulnerable young people in Texas as political pawns.

"In Texas and many other states, trans and non-binary people are under attack by legislators and political leaders, many of whom are exploiting them as political fodder for their election campaigns," said Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer, president of the United Church of Christ, and Andrew Lang, executive director of the church's Open and Affirming Coalition, on Tuesday. "We call on Gov. Abbott to rescind this onerous, harmful directive, and we call on state legislatures in other states to overturn any anti-transgender legislation that may currently exist in their state and defeat any pending anti-transgender legislation."

"They are trying to stop kids from being trans—but you can't make us not trans, you can only make us not alive."

The national non-profit advocacy group Children's Rights applauded the plaintiffs in the lawsuit "for challenging Gov. Abbott's blatantly political directive."

"If Gov. Abbott and other Texas leaders really cared about children, they would focus their efforts on better serving the children in Texas's badly broken child welfare system, not on cruelly targeting transgender children and their families for seeking affirming healthcare," said Samantha Bartosz, deputy litigation director at the group.

Studies have shown that transgender and non-binary children whose parents are unsupportive are far more likely than children with supportive families to attempt suicide.

"They are trying to stop kids from being trans—but you can't make us not trans, you can only make us not alive," said Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice at the ACLU.

In Austin, grassroots organizers demonstrated on the steps of the Texas State Capitol, chanting, "Stop the hate!"

"We cannot allow politicians to use trans youth to score political points," said Strangio. "We must speak up when lies and misinformation about trans youth are being spread. We must show up for trans youth today and every day."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Omar Leads Charge Against Baby Formula Monopolies Amid US Shortage

Democrats urge the FTC to probe "any unfair or unsustainable practices, like deceptive marketing, price gouging, and stock buybacks, that may be weakening our nutritional formula supply."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Arbitrary, Racist, and Unfair': Judge Blocks Biden From Ending Title 42

"Only the coyotes profiteering off of people seeking protection have reason to celebrate this ill-reasoned ruling," said one migrant rights advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·


'This Is a War' for Democratic Party's Future, Says Sanders of AIPAC's Super PAC

"They are doing everything they can to destroy the progressive movement in this country," said the senator.

Julia Conley ·


Ginni Thomas Pressed Arizona Lawmakers to Reverse Biden's 2020 Win: Report

"Clarence Thomas' continued service on the Supreme Court is a scandalous and appalling breach of judicial ethics," said one observer. "He is implementing the exact same theories that his wife used to try to steal the 2020 election for Trump."

Brett Wilkins ·


Millions More Kids Going Hungry Since GOP, Manchin Killed Expanded Child Tax Credit

"Even brief disruptions in access to food can have lasting consequences," wrote the authors of a new analysis of worsening hunger among U.S. families.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo