Legal Updates

LATEST: Lambda Legal, the ACLU of Texas, ACLU National, and the Transgender Law Center recently announced that they will sue to preserve access to evidence-based, life-saving health care following the Texas Legislature’s passage of Senate Bill 14. More details and information about the lawsuit will be announced in the coming weeks. Click here to read the statement from the legal team.

The Texas Attorney General also recently announced investigations into two hospitals that have provided care to transgender youth: Dell Children’s Medical Center and Texas Children’s Hospital. If you or someone you know has been a patient at these hospitals, you can help protect your private information by following these instructions and sending this letter to your medical provider. You may also contact the Lambda Legal Help Desk for more information.

If you or someone you know has had their access to health care interrupted because you are transgender, you may want to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

We still have court orders in place blocking PFLAG members across Texas from Governor Abbott and Attorney General Paxton’s order of DFPS investigations into health care for transgender youth. While our court cases continue, you can learn more about PFLAG and join here. And if you or someone you know is affected by a DFPS investigation involving health care for transgender youth, follow the steps on our Get Help page and contact the Lambda Legal Help Desk.

Preserving best practice, life-saving healthcare for transgender youth after unlawful attacks from Texas politicians

On February 22, 2022, Attorney General Ken Paxton released a non-binding opinion claiming that essential health care for transgender youth is “child abuse” under Texas law. The next day, Governor Greg Abbott directed the Texas Department of Family Protective Services (DFPS) to investigate families of transgender youth who receive gender-affirming health care. Later that day, DFPS Commissioner Jamie Masters said the department would investigate families for providing this care. 

These leaders’ actions were a cruel attack on vital and life-saving health care  supported and endorsed by every major medical association in the United States and decades of scientific research. Texas law regarding child abuse has not changed; gender-affirming health care is still fully legal in Texas until at least September 1, 2023, and no one should report transgender youth simply for receiving this life-saving care. Any teachers, health care providers, and other mandatory reporters can access more information here.

Since March of 2022, we have won more than ten court orders at the district, appellate, and Texas Supreme Court, finding that Abbott, Masters, and DFPS’s actions are likely unlawful and caused irreparable harm. 

You can read more about these cases below. You can visit the case pages at ACLU of Texas and Lambda Legal to see all of these decisions and case filings

Doe I v. Abbott 

Within days of Abbott’s directive and DFPS’s statement, Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the ACLU of Texas filed suit, along with the law firm Baker Botts, to protect transgender young people’s right to receive essential health care. 

On May 13, the Texas Supreme Court mostly upheld these lower court orders and dealt a serious blow to Abbott’s directive by finding that he has no authority to rewrite Texas law or change the definition of child abuse in our state. The Texas Supreme Court also narrowed the scope of relief in that lawsuit to the specific parties in the case—the Doe family and Dr. Megan Mooney, a licensed psychologist and mandatory reporter of child abuse under Texas law.

The court orders for the Doe family and Dr. Mooney are still in effect, and the reasoning in those orders applies to all families and mandatory reporters across the state. These decisions are not yet final, and the case remains fully briefed and ongoing before the Texas Third Court of Appeals.

Click here to read the coalition's statement in the Doe I v. Abbott case.

PFLAG v. Abbott

The Texas Supreme Court’s narrowing of the injunction prompted a second lawsuit, PFLAG v. Abbott. 

On July 8, 2022, the ACLU, Lambda Legal, and the ACLU of Texas, along with Texas-based law firm Baker Botts LLP, filed a new lawsuit in Texas state court on behalf of PFLAG National and three Texas families who faced DFPS investigations. We have now won multiple court orders that protect our clients and PFLAG members across Texas from harmful and intrusive investigations into medically necessary health care by DFPS.

PFLAG joined the effort to stop these harms because PFLAG’s mission is to create a caring, equitable world where LGBTQIA+ people are safe, empowered, and loved. It is the first and largest organization dedicated to supporting, educating, and advocating for LGBTQ+ people and their families. Along with PFLAG, we are collectively fighting to ensure that every member of PFLAG in Texas is protected from unwarranted and lawless investigations into essential health care for transgender youth. The court orders we have in place only apply to PFLAG members and the named plaintiffs in our cases. If you are interested in joining or learning more about PFLAG, please click here.

Please join us in advocating for and supporting transgender youth, and contact the Lambda Legal Help Desk if you or someone in your family is receiving gender-affirming care and have questions or face the possibility of being contacted by DFPS. We have lawyers ready to help, and all of us are committed to making Texas a safe and welcoming place for all.

Become an advocate today to help defend the rights of all trans people in Texas, especially kids.

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