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Wednesday, September 28, 2022
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More Families Sue Over Texas’ Transgender Child Abuse Investigations

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A transgender pride flag flies during a rally for transgender rights held outside the Texas Governors Mansion on March 13, 2022. | Image by Josie Norris/San Antonio Express-News

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Three more families filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s directive that parents who allow their children to undergo transgender hormone injections or procedures be investigated for child abuse.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit in Travis County on behalf of the three families. Aside from wanting investigations into the three families to be halted, the suit also asks that any families that belong to PFLAG, an advocacy group for parents and family members of LGBTQ+ people, be shielded from state investigations. PFLAG is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit.


According to court filings, PFLAG’s 17 chapters in Texas have over 600 members combined.

“Loving and affirming your child and empowering them to be themselves is the highest calling of any parent, no matter your child’s gender,” Brian K. Bond, executive director of PFLAG National, said in a statement. “If it takes a court ruling to ensure that the law protects families who lead with love in support of transgender Texans, so be it.”

The saga began in February after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an opinion stating that medically facilitating gender transitions for children is child abuse.

“Medical procedures and treatments that could permanently deprive minor children of their constitutional right to procreate, or impair their ability to procreate, before those children have the legal capacity to consent to those procedures and treatments, constitutes child abuse,” wrote Paxton.

Days later, Abbott issued his directive telling DFPS to investigate these cases, saying that Paxton’s opinion means that “a number of so-called ‘sex change’ procedures constitute child abuse under existing Texas law.”

“Because the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) is responsible for protecting children from abuse, I hereby direct your agency to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation of any reported instances of these abusive procedures in the state of Texas,” wrote Abbott.

The agency responded in a statement, saying it would “follow Texas law … in accordance with Governor Abbott’s directive.”

Wednesday’s lawsuit is the second to be filed against Abbott’s directive. Last month, the Texas Supreme Court unanimously voted to allow the DFPS to investigate parents and doctors who facilitate gender transitions in children for child abuse.

However, the court barred further investigation into the anonymous family identified as the plaintiff in that suit and affirmed that neither the governor nor attorney general could direct the DFPS.

Some investigations resumed after that ruling. Reportedly, at least nine families are currently under investigation by the DFPS for potential child abuse.

This latest lawsuit seeks to widen the number of people DFPS cannot investigate.

Pseudonyms are used in court filings to refer to two of the families who are plaintiffs in the latest lawsuit. However, Adam and Amber Briggle, who have a transgender son, are named in the lawsuit as plaintiffs. The Briggle family has been publicly open about the investigation into their family.

Previously, the Briggle family has openly encouraged transgender youth by attending legislative hearings and political rallies. They even invited AG Paxton to dinner in 2016 in an attempt to bridge the divide. However, the family claims in the suit that the new directive has caused them to become fearful for their family’s safety.

“For the first time, they (the family) have installed cameras outside of their home,” the lawsuit alleges. “They have been followed in their car, and yelled at by a person in another vehicle.”

Last month, the Briggles told The Dallas Morning News that they believe the child-abuse investigations are motivated by politics.

“This has been political since day one,” said Amber Briggle. “They’re not going to close [our case] unless they’re forced to by the courts.”

A poll of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans conducted in swing states showed that 56% of all respondents support “banning puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and physical sex-change surgeries for children under the age of 18,” while 34% were against it.      

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