Conservative attacks on transgender children and their parents escalated recently, when Republican Governor Greg Abbott of Texas issued a directive to the state's Department of Family and Protective Services, urging them to investigate the parents of transgender children for child abuse.
The letter instructed the department to conduct a "prompt and thorough investigation” into any instances of children undergoing “elective procedures for gender transitioning," citing a recent opinion by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton that hormone therapies, puberty blockers, and confirmation surgery constitute child abuse.
The conservative hysteria surrounding gender confirmation procedures for transgender youth has been rife with disinformation. Though gender confirmation surgery is only available to people over 18 in the United States, conservatives falsely claim that young children are undergoing these procedures. While puberty blockers are reversible and often used by cisgender children as well, these conservative politicians and media personalities erroneously insist they do irreparable harm.
But under Abbott's new directive, these investigations into the families of trans children have already begun, and one is being conducted on an employee of the Department of Family and Protective Services—the very institution Abbott urged to conduct the investigations in the first place.
J. David Goodman of the New York Times' Houston bureau reported that the employee—the mother of a 16 year old transgender child—has been visited by investigators and put on leave. The state is demanding her child's medical records, though the family is refusing to divulge them.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas and Lambda Legal have since filed a complaint in state court to stop the investigation.
The employee, who is not named and is using a pseudonym for her daughter, wrote:
“We are terrified for Mary’s health and well-being, and for our family. I feel betrayed by my state and the agency for whom I work.”
Thankfully, a judge has temporarily halted the investigation, pending a hearing on March 11 that will decide if a broader injunction is necessary.
The inquiry has generated heavy backlash on social media.
Abbott was especially criticized for issuing the directive in the first place.
Five district attorneys in the state have refused to comply with the order.