The families are among at least nine interviewed by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services for providing their transgender children with certain medical treatments. In a complaint filed Wednesdaythree of the families describe what they say is a constant fear of being separated from their children for providing them with medically advised gender-affirming treatments.
The lawsuit, filed in a Texas district court by advocacy groups Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union, seeks not only to block investigations into the three families named in it, but also to protect anyone affiliated with the LGBTQ advocacy group Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) — which has about 600 members in Texas — from similar surveys.
The lawsuit is at least the second filed following Abbott’s order, which was based on a non-binding opinion from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who determined that providing medical treatments such as blood sugar blockers puberty and hormone therapy could “legally constitute child abuse” under state law. President Biden decried the movement as “government overreach at its worst”.
The offices of the state attorney general and the governor did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Washington Post early Thursday.
In March, Lambda Legal and the ACLU filed a similar complaint on behalf of a family whose 16-year-old transgender daughter, identified as Mary Doe, received gender-affirming care. A judge ruled that the state could not proceed with the types of child abuse investigations directed by Abbott’s order. But the Texas Supreme Court later said the ruling could only apply to Doe’s family.
Texas judge suspends Governor Greg Abbott’s order to treat gender-affirming care as child abuse
Karen Loewy, senior attorney for Lambda Legal, told the Post that the new trial was necessary to protect other families under investigation.
Like the strict state ban on abortion, the directive allows private citizens to enforce it, Loewy said. This means ordinary Texans who suspect violations can report neighbors, acquaintances and others. Professionals in certain industries who are required to report suspected cases of child abuse, such as teachers and doctors, must also alert the authorities to suspected gender-affirming treatments for minors.
“It’s just an invitation to those who would discriminate against trans people to make these kinds of reports,” Loewy said. “It’s really, really painful.”
The families named in the lawsuit said they felt the brunt of being watched by neighbors, doctors and even strangers.
When the 16-year-old boy attempted suicide by ‘ingesting a bottle of aspirin’, his mother, identified in the lawsuit as Mirabel Voe, said he was rushed to hospital. The doctors were able to save his life and referred him to an outpatient mental institution. There, when staff learned he was on hormone therapy, they reported Voe to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Investigators quickly arrived at the family home.
“Being called an ‘alleged perpetrator’ in my own living room shocked me, and I immediately felt hurt and stigma for being falsely accused of harming my own child simply by providing care. medically necessary health care,” Voe wrote in a statement submitted with the lawsuit.
FAQ: What you need to know about transgender children
In other statements, transgender children described fear of being bullied, harassed and exposed at school because of the directive. Others recounted what they considered “a complete invasion of privacy” and said their homes no longer felt safe. All said they feared their families would be punished or torn apart.
“It really affects these kids and their parents in the most traumatic way,” Loewy said.
For the families, the experience of being under investigation was nothing short of devastating, the lawsuit says.
“Our family is as much a part of Texas as any other family, and [my son] is entitled to receive the same affirmation, love and ability to thrive as any other young person in our state,” Adam Briggle, a father and plaintiff in the case, wrote in a statement.
Julian Mark contributed to this report.